Tampa Bay area residents embrace College Football National Championship

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The stage is set for the Super Bowl of college football. Fans are excited, businesses can’t wait, and the those who live in the Tampa Bay rea are ready for an exciting event.

The countdown is on for the College Football Playoff National Championship, which will take place Jan. 9 in Tampa at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa’s landscape is changing ahead of the match-up between Alabama and Clemson, and folks like what they’re seeing.

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Progress is happening near Ray Jay and all over Downtown Tampa, especially around Curtis Hixon Park, where a new skyline is taking shape. Sylvia Francis drove all the way from Seffner to attend her Zumba class at Curtis Hixon Park Tuesday night. Francis had a good laugh when she arrived and saw a massive stage that now sits in the spot where she normally does salsa.

“I love it. Tampa is on the map,” she told News Channel 8. “Look at Tampa, look at downtown. It’s so beautiful. It’s good to be on the map. It’s good for people to say, ‘Tampa is somewhere to go.'”

The changes are visible to those driving in Tampa. There are big barricades all over downtown and on streets close to Ray Jay. There’s also restricted access in certain areas.

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Don’t be surprised if you can’t get from point A to point B while walking your dog. Some people have already noticed a change in recreational routes that are typically open to everyone.

You’ll also see “No Parking” signs throughout the downtown area. In addition, there will be increased police presence.

With a game of this size, you can expect to see media from all over the country, including ESPN. Sources told News Channel 8 the sports network has taken over part of the Bank of America building in Downtown Tampa.

The signs of progress are indeed everywhere. Those who live here love seeing it, even with a few minor speed bumps along the way. After all, this is a stage so big, it’ll make Tampa shine in the national spotlight.

Parents taking a walk with their little girl, Sadie Mae, near Curtis Hixon Park Tuesday night told News Channel 8 they’re happy to see a game of this size being held in the Tampa Bay area. “Having a big event like this here, I mean, it brings a lot of publicity. A lot of people coming in to see. Not only are they gonna see the game, they’re gonna get a chance to see our city,” Andrew Tedder said.

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