In her role with the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee, Katie Kicklighter will provide oversight and coordination of the Venue Allocation Program and assist with planning NFL sanctioned events. A graduate of the University of South Florida’s Vinik Sport and Entertainment Management Program, Kicklighter previously served as the Graduate Resident for the Tampa Bay Sports Commission where she worked primarily in events assisting with management, logistics, operations, marketing, and promotions. Most recently, Kicklighter served as the Assistant Tournament Manager for the Tampa Bay Local Organizing Committee during the 2019 NCAA Women’s Final Four where she was instrumental in elevating the championship’s community and social impact initiatives while serving as the co-chair for the Read to the Final Four and Sustainability sub-committees. Prior to her time in Tampa Bay, Kicklighter was a collegiate swimmer at Colorado State University, graduating Summa Cum Laude in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing and minors in Global Environmental Sustainability and Sports Management.
Katie Kicklighter, Manager of Hospitality & Events
How has your past experience as a former student-athlete on the swim team at Colorado State University carried over into your roles with the Tampa Bay Sports Commission and now Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee?
Like special events, the preparation for student-athletes begins years in advance to make sure you’ve accounted for every detail when it comes time to compete. My student-athlete journey has been key in developing the work ethic and drive needed to be successful in both of these roles. I see training day in and day out for that one race as a direct comparison to the Sports Commission’s “Game Day, Every Day” motto. At CSU, I swam sprint freestyle where the difference between just being in that race and winning was often only hundredths of a second, so I know that pushing your limits in practice, can be what sets you apart in the end, and that’s the mindset I try to bring to my job as well.
While attending the USF Vinik Sport and Entertainment Management Program, you fulfilled your fellowship with the Tampa Bay Sports Commission and served as the Assistant Tournament Manager for the Tampa Bay Local Organizing Committee during the 2019 NCAA Women’s Final Four. What about that experience was transformative for you?
Tampa is so successful as a host community because of its team mentality in rallying around major events. It was eye-opening to see the number of facets of event management that all interact and require consideration including everything from transportation, parking, security, marketing, etc. Women’s Final Four was 100 percent evidence of this and showcased the importance of collaboration to deliver the best possible experience for visitors and locals alike. At every turn, I was learning to assess decisions from other perspectives and make sure it worked from the ground up to the birds-eye view.
Having graduated with a minor in Global Environmental Sustainability and helping Tampa Bay achieve its first-ever major event “evergreen” certification in partnership with the Council for Responsible Sport during the 2019 NCAA Women’s Final Four, you have had a tremendous impact in helping elevate and implement sustainability initiatives since joining the TBSC team. Can you share or provide a “sneak peek” into some of the exciting green initiatives you are working on with the NFL in advance of Super Bowl LV?
One of the most important aspects of hosting any major event is ensuring a positive impact is left behind on the host community. My background in sustainability allows me to look at the event planning process through a unique lens so that we make decisions that consider the long-term effects and align with our goals. For example, we utilize the Riverwalk to create a walkable event footprint that encourages outdoor activity and limits transportation. Sustainability will also be one of the key pillars of our host committee’s legacy program and we plan to incorporate several social and environmental initiatives alongside the NFL Green team whose Super Bowl environmental program has five main initiatives: solid waste management, material reuse, food recovery, sports equipment and book donations, and greenhouse gas reduction. Our team will also work with many of our amazing community partners who are experts in the space including using TECO solar blocks to offset the energy used during Host Committee events.
As the Manager of Events and Hospitality for the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee, one of your primary responsibilities is managing the Venue Allocation Program. For readers at home, what is the Venue Allocation Program, how does it work and what is the host committee doing to elevate the experience for the NFL and their partners?
Outside of the big game, Super Bowl LV will bring hundreds of ancillary events to our community. Part of my role is to make sure that these organizers find venues to host their events. The Venue Allocation Program is designed to help manage these requests and provide concierge service to the NFL in identifying the best locations to host their signature events based on their wish lists. We make recommendations based off capacity, layout, location, and many more criteria. We’ve also designed an online portal that showcases a directory of participating venues, photos of the space, and details relevant to the venue selection process in an effort not only to elevate the experience of the NFL and their partners but to provide increased exposure for participating local venues to work directly with these entities. It is our goal to help create a unified front for the NFL and their partners, as well as make sure our community shines on this global stage like never before.