NFL kicks off Super Bowl LV with sand dune creation at Picnic Island

photo of a beach with a grassy area to the side

Tampa is become a city of champs. The Lightning just surged to the Stanley Cup, and the Bucs are currently sitting with a nice 3-1 record (2-0 at home). Each year, a symbolic Super Bowl “Golden Shovel” is passed from one Super Bowl host community to the next. The National Football League, Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, Tampa Bay Parks and Recreation, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, NFL partner Verizon and Force Blue special operations veterans joined forces for this iconic moment, which is the kickoff for numerous Super Bowl LV community greening projects.

Back-to-back Super Bowls in Florida allow for a unique passing of the “Golden Shovel” from Miami to Tampa Bay. The final Super Bowl LIV community greening project in Miami included a sand dune restoration at Crandon Park and the handing over of the “Golden Shovel” to a Force Blue diver who transported it to from Miami to Tampa – emerging from the water with shovel in hand for a unique Florida “Golden Shovel” presentation to the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee.


Tampa Parks builds sand dunes to prevent erosion

In advance of the “Golden Shovel” presentation, Tampa Parks and Recreation built sand dunes at Picnic Island to help prevent erosion and protect against storm damage. Volunteers and Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful planted those sand dunes with 900 plants including sea oats, dune sunflowers, railroad vine, muhly grass and cordgrass to help prevent erosion. Volunteers worked in small groups and followed safety protocols as a precaution against COVID19.

“The NFL season is underway and so too are Super Bowl community greening projects,” said Claire Lessinger, Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee Vice President of Events. “This is the first of numerous projects planned in the Tampa Bay area to create a positive legacy around the big game.”

Large mangrove restoration planned

Other planned community greening projects include a large mangrove restoration project at Picnic Island, a beautification project to create a pollinator garden at Veterans Memorial Park, a large tree planting at the Boys & Girls Club in Wimauma, creation of a vegetable garden and community compost project at the Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful Environmental Education Center at Reed Park, native plantings and cleanups at Lowry Park and at McKay Bay Nature Park, and one of the most innovative Super Bowl environmental projects, the continued restoration of a Florida coral reef.


The coral restoration project unites the Super Bowl host communities of Miami and Tampa Bay. For Super Bowl LIV 100 corals were planted to restore a reef off of Miami’s coast in honor of the NFL’s 100th season and military veterans. The corals are thriving and recently spawned, indicating the vitality of the reef. Under the direction of Force Blue, the reef restoration project is being expanded for Super Bowl LV to become 100 Yards of Hope as a football field sized coral restoration project is created with corals grown at The Florida Aquarium in Tampa and the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School.

Introducing the coral restoration project

“We’ve had a tremendous number of partners join in the effort to ensure these impactful community projects are implemented even during these unprecedented times,” said Susan Groh, Associate Director of NFL Green. “Planting trees, creating greenspace and enhancing the natural environment is something the NFL has been doing around its tentpole events for over 15 years.”

Supporting the NFL’s community greening efforts in the Tampa Bay area are Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, The Florida Aquarium, NFL partners Verizon, Oikos Triple Zero and Castrol, and the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee Sustainability Program presented by TECO.

The coral restoration project also includes Force Blue, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program, University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School and Rescue a Reef Program, Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, Tervis and others as government, public and private partners work together to restore the national treasure that is Florida’s coral reef.


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