It's still only Friday, but the talk of the town -- consistently -- has been the low turnout from both fans and media at this year's Super Bowl. In Downtown Tampa (where the main weekend events are before things switch to Raymond James Stadium on Sunday), it feels like a quiet Sunday morning. Cab drivers are complaining about the lack of fares. ("In 2001, it was 10 days of work nonstop," said my cabby this morning, Noureddine Mehurarar, 46.) Even the weather has been a bit of a drag -- those of us coming from Pittsburgh had high expectations after leaving the ice and snow up there, and the 50-60 degree temps and rain showers have added to the slight downer feeling.
Even if it was sunny and hot, the economy would probably still be chilling bones down here.
Today, the P-G's Dan Gigler and I schlepped out north of the stadium to a giant parking lot where fans were supposed to be gathering and parking their RVs, in attempt to beat the high hotel and restaurant prices downtown. Except the lot was mostly empty pavement, filled mostly with salesmen from RV companies and empty grill tents.
It's still not even officially the weekend, so we'll see if the atmosphere changes. It's a bit sunnier now and NFL players are already swarming around, with one hotel close to the Tampa Convention Center, by way of welcome, blasting hip-hop from the veranda. It appears that they, at least, are ready to party.