Bitcoin St. Petersburg bowl festivities kick-off this week

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It’s this week! Not Christmas – that’s this week, too – the first ever Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl. It’s a big deal for football lovers because, well, college football, but this year it’s a big deal to a whole new group of people because of its name.

Kickoff for the Bitcoin Bowl at Tropicana Field is Friday at 8 p.m. But there’s a whole lot more to look forward to than just the matchup between the University of Central Florida and NC State.

On Christmas Eve, Wednesday, the teams will hit Madeira Beach starting sometime in mid-afternoon before 3 p.m. where they’ll have lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. in John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk. The lunch isn’t necessarily open to the public, but grab your own table for lunch and who knows?

Later Christmas Eve the teams will head to the beach at 3 p.m. to play beach volleyball and try their balance on some paddleboards. At 5:00 players will square off in a belly flop contest and other beach competitions.

On Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. there’s a Bitcoin Chairman’s cruise leaving from the Docks by the Vinoy. St. Pete City Council members Bill Dudley and Wengay Newton will join. The cruise is not open to the public.

Festivities start on Game Day at 2:30 for tailgating. ESPN will host a VIP tailgate party from 4:30 to 11 at Ferg’s Sports Bar across the street from the Trop.

Formerly the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl and St. Petersburg Bowl, Bitcoin took over naming rights this year as the online tech currency becomes more and more popular. BitPay, a startup company that helps businesses process Bitcoin payments, is the bowl’s title game sponsor.

Fans of Bitcoin consider it more secure currency than credit or debit cards. There’s no identifying information that could be used by would-be bad guys to steal users’ identities.

Despite the agreed-upon benefits, Bitcoin is still widely unheard of. Few merchants accept the online currency. Heads of Bitcoin and BitPay are hoping to change that.

Some businesses in St. Pete are already using BitPay to process the techie money including Ferg’s Sports Bar, the St. Pete Museum of History, Green Bench Brewery and Hotel Zamora.

During a naming launch in August, BitPay owners explained the expansion into college football is a good way to reach an audience not yet tapped. That means football fans asking: what the heck is Bitcoin? It’s a question owners hope to answer.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email