Locals brace for ripple effect of NFL lockout

11:56 PM, Mar 1, 2011   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida - A stone's throw from Raymond James Stadium, Bucs' game days keep Steve Walden and members of the Jesuit High School Dad's Club busy parking cars.

"We all know where the money's going, so that really is a passion," says Steve, who is the Dad's Club president. "A lot of times, when we ask 'how did we do today,' we immediately determine how many scholarships, or if we even got one full scholarship that day of parking."

Jesuit has long been proud of it's scholarship aid for students. If a student qualifies academically to attend the school, but can't afford tuition, Jesuit provides a scholarship. The way to raise these funds comes during special events at Raymond James Stadium by providing additional parking at Jesuit. If there's no NFL season in which to park cars, the financial loss will clearly hurt this school's mission.

"Twenty to thirty percent of our student body is on financial aid and we've given, this year alone, 1.3 million dollars in financial aid, so it will have a big impact on that aid program," says Jesuit High School President Father Richard Hermes, S.J.

While the school anticipates trying to find alternative fundraising they don't already employ, Father Hermes waits with faith.

"(We) wait and see like everyone else around here, because there'll be a lot of other businesses and families impacted by what happens."

The management company of Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Sports Authority (TSA), hires a number of sub-contractors for Bucs games. They, in turn, employ thousands of part-time and seasonal workers. TSA tells 10 News these jobs could number as high as 2,400, without counting the seasonal staff the Bucs hire themselves. These are the sorts of jobs promised when NFL owners convince cities to subsidize their stadiums. But, right now, they're just another example of a growing list of people and businesses who'll be affected by a NFL lockout.

"The NFL lockout would be severe, not only to us, but I think, the entire area," says Trey Goss, manager of the Press Box Sports Emporium. For decades, the small but mighty sports bar has been in an institution along Dale Mabry in South Tampa.

Goss says the Bucs blackouts hurt business enough. But no NFL games at all?

"That's worse, (dealing with) the Bucs was hard, but with all the games gone, that dwindles to nothing," says Goss. "No season, no wings, no customers, no job, nothing."

"A lot of people are irritated by the fact there's so much money involved anyway. What is there to complain about?" he adds. "So you get a lot of that, but people just want to watch their football."

And around here, ultimately, keep their jobs.

"To not have football, yeah, that would put all of our jobs in jeopardy pretty much," says Goss. "That would be huge."

If you'd like, you can contribute to the Jesuit High School Scholarship Fund. Just click the "Jesuit Annual Fund" donation button on the JHS home page. 

Angela Jacobs, 10 News

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