SMH Nurses Brace for Super Bowl, but Tourism Doesn't

Todays News

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY JAN 25, 2021

Hosting the Super Bowl in Tampa is the type of event that should draw tourists from around the nation, but COVID-19 restrictions will make for a very different kind of event on Feb. 7. But some individuals who will be in audience are the frontline health care workers from Sarasota Memorial Health Care System.

Last week, hospital officials share, there was a special call made to 5 Windemere Tower supposedly for a simple internal update with Sarasota Memorial CEO David Verinder. Nurses ended up speaking with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who joined on the Zoom call to invite the health care team to Super Bowl LV.

Verinder said Goodell spoke with the nursing team about the difficult year facing the pandemic. “There were heartwarming, tears-in-your-eyes stories,” Verinder recalls. But there was also an aspect to the call of fun. The nurses had been among teams nationwide to send a video to the host committee for the Super Bowl, and was among the first to receive a response.

“We’re just so happy things came together the way they did,” said nurse Rebecca Izquierdo, a case manager for Sarasota Memorial.

It’s a nice bit of news as the region’s hospitality network faces a little disappointment about the unfolding of this Super Bowl. Elliott Falcione, executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said his organization is on the planning calls for the event but the game at Raymond James Stadium won’t bring as many people as under normal circumstances. Asked about whether the sporting event will generate visitors here, Falcione responded, “not in the region since the Super Bowl will be significantly limited with all activities,” he said.

The same goes for Sarasota County. “We do not have the corporate sponsorship groups that we would have has,” said Shelby Connett, sports director for Visit Sarasota County. “However, there is a chance we could get some last-minute overflow.” That could be true now that the teams in the Superbowl became clear.

Of course, Sarasota County limits its own promotions tied to the Super Bowl as even those who do stay so far south do much of their spending in Tampa anyway.

Courtesy SMH: Rebecca Izquierdo, R.N.

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