NFL Kickoff Experience Is Coming To Tampa Bay

By Abagail Chambers

Ed Sheeran will be at Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park on Thursday, Sept. 9 performing a free concert at the 2021 National Football League (NFL) Kickoff Experience. The Grammy award-winner is coming to Tampa Bay to kickstart the Buccaneers first official game of the season. 

Presented by Electronic Arts (EA) Sports Madden NFL ‘22, fans and members of the community can enjoy the event entirely free all day long. 

Beginning at 12 p.m., the festivities will include football-inspired activities, appearances by former Buccaneers, and various photo opportunities. Finally, Ed Sheeran’s concert will take place around 7 p.m. 

The singer-songwriter’s performance will air on NBC during the Dallas Cowboys vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers pregame. For those unable to attend, the NFL will also be livestreaming the concert on their Facebook page, website, and app. 

“I’m really excited. First time I’ve done anything really musically for the NFL, and I’m a big fan. It’s a big moment for me,” said Ed Sheeran in an interview with NBC. 

UT students are also excited for the event and especially the performance of Ed Sheeran’s new song “Bad Habits.”

“Ed Sheeran has been one of my favorite artists for a long time but his newer music is my favorite,” said Ashlyn Pfeuffer, junior. “I’m shocked his concert is free and so close to campus, I can’t wait.” 

Tony Mulkey, the City of Tampa’s Special Events Superintendent said, “Building on the thrill of experiencing our Tampa Bay Buccaneers championship, we look forward to starting a new season with the excitement of hosting Ed Sheeran for the NFL Kick-Off event…having a multiple Grammy award winning performer as the featured entertainment is sure to bring out the largest crowd ever at Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park.”

“That was totally the NFL’s decision, but clearly Champa Bay merits A-list entertainment,”said Adam Smith, The City of Tampa’s Director of Communication. 

Ed Sheeran will not be the only exciting appearance at this kickoff event. All 55 Superbowl Rings as well as the Lombardi Trophy will be there as well to snap a picture with. 

Although the photos, activities, and concert are open to the public free of admission, all attendees must download the NFL OnePass App. The celebration will also operate on a first-come, first-serve basis, rain or shine. 

Followed by Sheeran’s performance is the NFL Kickoff Watch Party hosted by Kimmi Chex and Desi Banks. Fans are encouraged to stay after and watch the Dallas Cowboys face the defending Super Bowl champions.

“Usually you have to pay hundreds of dollars to see Ed Sheeran Perform. It is so great that this event is happening right here in Tampa,” said Samantha Bain, junior nursing major. 

Tampa Bay, like many other cities around the country, has been absent from concerts during the pandemic. Unvaccinated attendees are encouraged to wear a mask.  

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