Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Counting on Changes Taking Place

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Counting on Changes Taking Place

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Woods, Times-Union sports columnist

Are you counting the days?

We are. You may have noticed that in the front section of the paper we have stories, charts and photos reminding you that 1,000 days from tomorrow, the Super Bowl will be here.

One thousand days until TV viewers from New York to New Delhi get a look at the river.

One thousand days until bellhops will be heard saying, "This way to your berth, sir."

One thousand days until we play host to a cocktail party that will make the annual Florida-Georgia game seem like a spur-of-the-moment backyard barbecue. (Official countdown song: "One thousand days until the Super Bowl. Take one down, pass it around . . . 999 days until the Super Bowl.")

Are you excited?

Go ahead, admit it. You are. So are your neighbors and your co-workers. So is your barber and your mechanic. So is just about everyone you know.

That's what I like about Jacksonville. Based on square miles, this is the biggest city in the contiguous 48. It is so large that if it were the setting for a Western, the two antagonists would end up shaking hands on Main Street and saying, "You know what? This town IS big enough for the two of us."

But inside the city's massive body is a small town.

In Miami, people don't get excited three years before a Super Bowl. In Los Angeles, they don't get excited three hours before a Super Bowl. And can you imagine a paper in New Orleans doing stories about a Super Bowl being 1,000 days away?

But in Jacksonville, it makes sense.

"This is our introduction to the world," host committee president Mike Weinstein said.

There is a buzz here already. And Jim Steeg, a senior vice president who has run the past 23 Super Bowls, has felt it. "Certainly in Jacksonville's mindset," he said, "this is the biggest thing to happen to Jacksonville in kind of ever. …

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