TAMPA, Fla. — Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa had the potential to be a true shot in the arm for limousine operators and transportation companies in the Tampa and Orlando metro markets.
But as the big game approached, events began to vanish. Playboy and Sports Illustrated canceled their annual parties while many corporate events were scaled down. The economic downturn was extending its reach to America’s favorite pastime.
So with all of the festivities now over, how exactly did the event turn out for operators?
Marcos Lopez, owner of Tampa-based Embassy Limousines and Sedan Service, said the Super Bowl was an overwhelming success. Lopez normally runs 19 vehicles in his fleet. He supplemented it with six additional rented SUVs and brought in 13 additional vehicles from out of town affiliates (Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando).
“We went after the corporate business early and got a good portion of our business months before the event,” explained Lopez. “The Super Bowl hasn’t been a stretch limousine event in the past couple of years. Stretch limousines were the last thing for us to book. The corporate accounts, celebrities, and personalities don’t want to be seen showing up to events in a limousine anymore.” Lopez kept all of his vehicles rolling Thursday through Sunday. “It was a very successful week for us,” Lopez said.
Terry Kurmay owns three Florida companies — Executive Limousine and Chauffeur Service Inc., Alpha Limousine and Chauffeured Service, and Argent Luxury Transportation Company. “In our normal week, we receive 100 calls per week,” Kurmay said. “During Super Bowl we were getting 100 calls per day.”
Kurmay’s fleet of 48 vehicles was augmented by 30 extra rented vehicles. The work he couldn’t do he farmed locally to other companies going as far as Orlando to get coverage. “All of our stretches went out as did our party bus. Most of our work came from our national affiliates with only about 10% coming from the street,” Kurmay said. “Everyone in the area was busy.”
There were companies who had cars sitting, said Ted Koutos, president of Olympus Limo Inc. “A lot of the companies that came from out of town didn’t work. All of our stretches were booked and we had to hire additional companies to cover stretches.”
Koutos rented 19 additional vehicles, including 11 black Cadillac Escalades to augment their fleet. Olympus ended up running more SUVs than sedans, a change from the 2001 Super Bowl when sedans and stretches were more popular, Koutos said. “In 2001, it was not unheard of to have eight stretches for one company alone; now they are taking SUVs,” Koutos said.
Dave Shaw of Pure Limousine ran 20 additional rented vehicles and brought 15 additional stretches in from affiliates throughout the state as far Miami. One client kept them extremely busy the entire week.
“Despite parties getting canceled it was still extremely busy,” Shaw said. “The big parties still went on and they were packed to the hilt. Hard Rock had to shut down as the building was over capacity. If you left your clients there couldn’t get back in.”
News outlets reported that game day ticket prices dropped, but on the day of the game, the prices went right back up.” Shaw attributes the success at Pure due to the fact that they only took on as much business as they could handle. “We weren’t greedy,” he said. “We ran what we had. The phone never stopped ring 24 hours from Wednesday on.”
Hillsborough County required all for hire chauffeurs have a Florida driver’s license and a Hillsborough county permit. The county kept the offices open through Saturday. Cesar Padilla, the Interim Executive Director of Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission, felt everything went as well because the companies that they regulate on a daily basis did their part to follow the letter of the law.
“Super Bowl is possible because of the people we regulate,” Padilla said. “They cover all the transportation needs for the event. The local association works well making sure the rules and law are enforced.”
Source: Linda Moore, LCT Magazine