TREASURE ISLAND — This year’s Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl and Beach Invasion events will be packed into one big day of island revelry, as the city joins ESPN Sports for beach games, cheerleader competition and marching bands.
During the City Commission’s Nov. 5 work session, Justin Tramble, assistant director of recreation, noted this event puts Treasure Island into the nationally televised spotlight surrounding the bowl game that will take place Dec. 23 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
The NCAA college football bowl game will feature teams representing the American Athletic Conference and Conference USA.
In conjunction with the bowl game, ESPN Events is once again requesting to partner with the city’s recreation department to host a free public event on Treasure Island, Tremble told commissioners.
On Saturday, Dec. 21, from 2 to 5 p.m., the Gasparilla Bowl Beach Invasion will be held on the beach behind Gulf Front Park at 10400 Gulf Blvd.
In its third year, Tremble told commissioners, “we call this a sponsorship, but it’s more; it’s truly a partnership to put on a community event out on our beach. And, an event we feel has really caught on with our residents. We think our residents and visitors will continue to help the event grow.”
This year some changes were made “to maximize the positive impact of the event, which includes having the marching bands event on the same day as the beach competitions,” he said. In past years, the event took place over two days.
“In an effort to build it and really make it a community event, ESPN has jumped on board as well. They propose to come out to the beach and give out tickets to our residents and visitors who are wearing the team colors on our beach invasion day,” he said.
It will cost the city $10,000 to become a “Championship Sponsor.” Any additional money the city spends in personnel or operational costs is deducted from the sponsorship amount.
As part of the sponsorship, the city’s logo will be publicized at Raymond James Stadium, on electronic signs, in promotional material and during the televised bowl game.
ESPN and the recreation department are proposing a rain date of Dec. 22.
Both college bands will march toward the beach by way of the city’s downtown corridor on 107th Avenue. They will compete on the beach behind Gulf Front Park. There will also be a series of competitions between the football players of both teams. There will be food vendors and a variety of interactive games and activities for the beach community and visiting fans.
ESPN will also partner with Joy of Giving and the Mike Alstott Family Foundation, Tremble said.
“The Recreation Department continues to work with the Treasure Island & Madeira Beach Chamber of Commerce and Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce in order to maximize the positive impact of the public events and to build off of the success of the previous year’s event,” he added.
Commissioner Heidi Horak said “it’s a great event. I went last year and I loved it.”
Commissioners will vote to authorize the event at their Nov. 15 regular meeting.