City of Tampa Signs On as Co-Sponsor of Tampa Pride

By : Greg Stemm
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Tampa – The City of Tampa has signed an agreement to provide $35,000 worth of in-kind city services to the new Tampa Pride celebration scheduled for March 28, 2015. The co-sponsorship is a real victory for Tampa Pride, Inc. not only because of the boon it will give the planning of the celebration, but because it’s the first sponsorship the city has given since a 2009 moratorium was placed on financially supporting new festivals.

Initially, the City denied Tampa Pride’s request for a co-sponsorship, but meetings with LGBT friendly mayor Bob Buckhorn made the support possible.

Total city fees to put on the festival is $64,000, which is half of Tampa Pride’s $128,000 budget. Tampa Pride had originally asked the city for $38,000 in co-sponsored support, according to Carrie West, president of Tampa Pride, Inc.

“Because the monies for sponsoring an event like this come from more than one part of the city budget, we had to do some shuffling around and literally take a little from here and a little from there to make it work,” said Ali Glisson, public affairs director for the city. “Mayor Buckhorn has long been a supporter of LGBT issues and he sees the new Pride celebration as a very positive thing for the city,” said Glisson. “So if there was any way we could help support it we were going to make it work.”

Glisson said the sponsorship money will help cover everything from police and fire protection and EMS services to traffic control and trash pick-up.

“We are ecstatic over the decision from the City of Tampa to sign on as a co-sponsor of the event,” said West. ”We’d like to thank Mayor Bob Buckhorn and many of his staff for their tremendous support. This is yet another sign of Tampa’s commitment to diversity and to the dedication and support of the entire LGBT community. This sponsorship is an example of Tampa putting its commitment to diversity into action.”

This marks the first time that the GaYbor District Coalition, which West founded with his partner Mark Bias, has ever asked for financial support from the city, West explained.

“And with what we’ve seen with the huge economic impact of events like St. Pete Pride,” West said, “we are confident that any money the city spends with us will quickly be refilled into their coffers.”

West said he thinks that showing the city what an big economic impact an event like this can have was instrumental in swaying the decision to assist financially.

“We also pointed out that smaller governments like the City of Lakeland or Pasco County were stepping up to the plate to sponsor Pride celebrations in their communities and as the biggest metropolitan area in the region, Tampa should be on board too,” said West.

West said he is pleased with the way things are coming together in the planning for this inaugural event. He notes that there were over 50 people at the last planning session and representatives from groups like the Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the Metro Center, PFLAG, St. Pete Pride and others were in attendance.

Tampa Pride is already attracting some big name sponsors. West said the Tampa Bay Buccaneers recently signed on as a major in-kind sponsor.

“We have about a third of the money we need so far,” said West.

He added that Tampa Pride has collected a number of letters of intent from bigger sponsors like liquor companies, bars, banks and other corporations and he expects much of their sponsorship dollars will arrive in the two months leading up to the event. He noted some companies are not able to make commitments until after the first of the year. Right now West said Pride is focusing on smaller donations from individuals.

“The $10, $20 or more contributions from individuals really helps,” he said. “Also we’re asking people to approach their employers for support.”

Tampa Pride will be different than some other local events in that there is a limit of 100 participating groups for both the parade and street festival. West said the group has about 40 registered so far for both events, including more than a dozen not for profit organizations.

He noted that some tourism promotion people are getting ready for what they hope will be an influx of visitors similar to what St. Pete Pride has seen in recent years. The goal is to get guests to spend an entire weekend and stay in hotels, eat at local restaurants and shop in local retail stores.

“The Westshore Marriott already is offering special Pride discounts for that weekend and has plans to include a free shuttle from their location to Pride events in Ybor,” said West. “We expect other hotels to follow. We’re hoping that Tampa Pride will be a place where there are no pretenses.

“We can all just gather together and be proud of who we are. There are over 300,000 members of the LGBT community in our area and Tampa Pride will be a place we can celebrate our many contributions to the Tampa Bay region. We hope everyone will come out and support it.”

For details on the celebration, or to donate, visit TampaPride.org.

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