Originally created 01/26/99

South Florida gears up for onslaught of football fans, celebs, CEOs



MIAMI -- Tony Theodore is lucky enough to have two choice seats for the Super Bowl.

But get this -- he might just pass them up.

"Business comes first," said Theodore, co-owner of Chaos, one of the hottest nightclubs on trendy South Beach. "I would love to go, but business comes first."

Like many businessmen in South Florida, Theodore is gearing up for the nearly 140,000 people expected in town for the game Sunday between the defending champions Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons.

Golf courses, hotels, restaurants, and malls are stocked and prepared to serve the out-of-towners.

The swanky Chaos caters to regulars such as actor Harrison Ford, director Oliver Stone and R&B bad boy Bobby Brown. Some of football's and Hollywood's biggest names already have appeared this week at the club.

This week, anyone who lacks star appeal or ties to anyone who does won't get in.

"We don't want to fill it with anyone with a $20 bill in hand," said Theodore, whose club is booked with private soirees, including official team parties for the Falcons and the Broncos. "We are going to try to keep the club selective."

At the internationally known Spa at Doral, workers prepare to primp and prime guests going to the game. Corporations have bought massages, seaweed treatments and mud baths for their top clients.

They've also booked the 48-room hotel and the neighboring 645-room Doral Golf Resort from Thursday through Sunday.

Even tee times are gone for the weekend. The Doral Golf Course, where pros hone their skills, will host nearly 1,400 amateur golfers, the most ever.

"This is a group looking to have a good time," said Jossie Feria, director of the spa. "There's going to be a lot of golfing and parties. It's a festive, energized, fun type of event."

The chic Bal Harbour Shops expects busloads of visitors seeking designer fashions like Chanel, Valentino and Versace. The wives and girlfriends of the visiting football players will be treated to informal fashion shows.

"We have all the new spring fashions," said Sonia Gibson, fashion and public relations director for Saks Fifth Avenue at the mall just a block from the beach. "They are wearing wool coats up north, so they can buy their new bathing suits here."

Area police and airports have added patrols and employees to cater to Super Bowl visitors. Pilots flying corporate big shots into Miami will be treated to a party of their own at the Opa-Locka airport.

The Florida Highway Patrol assigned extra officers to all the major highways around Pro Player Stadium to make sure the wayward tourist doesn't stray too far, said Lt. Ernesto Duarte.

"We will be out for assistance, protection and visibility," Duarte said. "There are a lot of people from out of town and we want to make sure they have a pleasant stay in Miami."