Raymond James Stadium
"The New Sombrero"
"The Pirate Ship"
|Location||4201 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, Florida 33607
|Operator||Tampa Sports Authority|
|Surface||Tifway 419 Bermuda|
|Broke ground||October 15, 1996|
|Opened||September 20, 1998|
|Construction cost||US$168.5 million
($245 million in 2016 dollars)
|Architect||Populous (then HOK Sport)|
|Structural engineer||Bliss and Nyitray, Inc.|
|General contractor||Hunt/Metric Joint Venture|
Raymond James Stadium, also known as the "Ray Jay", is a multi-purpose football stadium located in Tampa, Florida. It is home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League (NFL) as well as the NCAA's South Florida Bulls football team. The stadium seats 65,890, and is expandable to 75,000 for special events. The stadium also hosts the annual Outback Bowl on New Year's Day; the annual pinnacle of USA equestrian showjumping, the AGA/Budweiser American Invitational; and the Monster Jam monster truck event after the end of football season in January or February.
Raymond James Stadium hosted Super Bowl XXXV on January 28, 2001 between the Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants, and Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals.
Raymond James Stadium was built to replace Tampa Stadium at the demand of new Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer. It is located adjacent to the site of the old stadium on the former location of Al Lopez Field, a minor-league baseball stadium that had been demolished in 1989. Once completed, the final cost of the new stadium was $168.5 million, with the entire cost publicly financed. It was known as Tampa Community Stadium during construction, but the naming rights were bought for US$32.5 million for a 13–year deal by St. Petersburg-based Raymond James Financial in June 1998. On April 27, 2006, an extension was signed to maintain naming rights through 2015. In May 2016 the Buccaneers announced that the naming rights were extended an additional 12 years ensuring that Raymond James Financials name will continue to appear though 2028.
The stadium officially opened on September 20, 1998, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Chicago Bears, 27–15. The stadium hosted its first soccer game on March 20, 1999, when the Tampa Bay Mutiny lost to D.C. United, 5–2.
The stadium was selected to host the ACC Championship Game in 2008 and 2009.
On September 28, 2007, the (then-ranked #18) University of South Florida Bulls set a record at Raymond James Stadium with a crowd of 67,018 when they played (then-ranked #5) West Virginia. This record remained the largest non-Super Bowl crowd in the stadium's history until September 29, 2012, when the University of South Florida Bulls played the Florida State University Seminoles before a crowd of 69,383.
Until 2010, every Buccaneers game at Raymond James Stadium sold out. In 2010, all home games failed to sell out and could not be broadcast on local television. The streak carried over until week four of the 2011 season, when it sold enough tickets for its Monday night game with the Indianapolis Colts on October 3 to avoid a local blackout.
The stadium was also home to the former Tampa Bay Mutiny of Major League Soccer and continues to periodically host soccer matches due to its accommodating field dimensions. For example, on June 8, 2012, it hosted the United States men's national soccer team's opening qualifying match against Antigua and Barbuda for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which the United States won 3-1.
One of the most recognizable features of the stadium is a 103-foot (31 m), 43-ton steel-and-concrete replica pirate ship, which fires replica cannons each time the Bucs score points or enter the other team's red zone. The cannon fires once for each point scored. In addition, when the Buccaneers enter their opponent's red zone, stadium hosts hoist team flags around the perimeter of the upper deck. During various times throughout the game, the song "Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)" is played on the stadium public address system (taken from Pirates of the Caribbean), which signals patrons on board the ship to throw beads, t–shirts, and other free prizes to the people below. The segment is also known as a "Mini Gasparilla" to most fans. An animated parrot sits on the stern of the pirate ship. Controlled by radio and remote control, the parrot picks fans out of the crowd and talks to those passing by.
The two 'Buc Vision' 2,200-square-foot (200 m2) Daktronics video displays were among the largest in the league when they were built and in 2016 they were replaced with a 9,600-square foot, high-definition video board in both end zones. 'Buccaneer Cove' features a weathered, two–story fishing village facade, housing stadium concessions and restrooms. All areas of the stadium are ADA compliant.
Temporary bleachers were erected in the end zones for Super Bowl XXXV, and the attendance was a stadium then-record 71,921.
Raymond James Stadium boasts the second-best turf in the NFL, according to a 2009 biannual players' survey.
In early 2016, the stadium was given an extensive face lift. The most notable improvement was the replacement of the 2,200-square-foot (200 m2) video displays with state of the art, high visibility 9,600-square-foot (890 m2) video displays in both the north and south end zones along with the addition of a new 2,300-square-foot (210 m2) video tower in each corner. All together, the video displays cover more than 28,000-square-foot (2,600 m2), making Raymond James Stadium the third-largest video displays in the NFL. The original sound system and the stadium's luxury boxes were also upgraded. A second round of improvements are planned for after the 2016 season is complete.
The stadium is referred to as "Ray Jay" or "The New Sombrero", a spinoff from "The Big Sombrero", the nickname of old Tampa Stadium. Somewhat derisively, it is also sometimes referred to as "the CITS", a name coined by long-time local sportscaster Chris Thomas which stands for "Community Investment Tax Stadium". On occasion during radio broadcasts of games, Buccaneers' radio play-by-play man Gene Deckerhoff refers to the stadium as "Jesse James Stadium".
- Immediately upon purchasing the Bucs in 1995, new owner Malcolm Glazer declared Tampa Stadium inadequate and began lobbying local government for a replacement. When the community did not move quickly enough to suit the Glazer family, the new owners openly contacted several other cities around the U.S. about possible relocation.
- The city of Tampa and Hillsborough County came up with a plan to fund a new stadium as part of a "Community Investment Tax", which was voted on in a referendum in September 1996. As part of the campaign to pass the referendum, Glazer promised to pay half the cost of the new stadium if fans put down 50,000 deposits on 10–year season ticket commitments. The drive fell 17,000 deposits short, the offer was withdrawn, and the Bucs did not pay any of the stadium's construction cost.
- On September 3, 1996, the voters of Hillsborough County, Florida approved, by 53% to 47% margin, a 30-year, half–cent sales tax to build new schools, improve public safety and infrastructure, and to build the Buccaneers a $192 million new stadium entirely with public money. The team signed a stadium lease in which the local government must pay for almost all of the stadium expenses while the franchise keeps almost all of the proceeds. Former Tampa mayor Bill Poe sued to stop the deal, claiming that giving such a "sweetheart deal" to a private business violated Florida's state constitution. A local court agreed with Poe, but the Bucs and local government appealed. Eventually, the Supreme Court of Florida ruled that the agreement was constitutional, and construction continued as planned.
- On October 31, 1996, the NFL owners met in New Orleans to select the host site for Super Bowl XXXIII and Super Bowl XXXIV. Pro Player Stadium in the Miami area was selected to host Super Bowl XXXIII. Atlanta, Tempe and Tampa were candidates for Super Bowl XXXIV, with Tampa the favorite, following the successful tax referendum. The Georgia Dome in Atlanta, however, was awarded the game. As a compromise, Tampa was awarded Super Bowl XXXV, which the NFL had not originally planned to select that day.
- The last Major League Soccer game played at Raymond James Stadium was on September 9, 2001 when the Mutiny lost to the Columbus Crew, 2–1, in front of 9,932 people. Although the September 11 attacks resulted in the cancellation of the remainder of the 2001 MLS regular season, the Mutiny did not have any more home games scheduled anyway. The Mutiny were subsequently disbanded by the league. National-level soccer matches are still occasionally played at Raymond James, as its wide field makes it ideal for hosting soccer.
- In April 2003, the Tampa Sports Authority proposed passing ownership of the stadium to Hillsborough County to avoid having to pay millions of dollars in property taxes (The Bucs' lease agreement dictated that they not have to pay property taxes). However, Bucs had a right of refusal and refused to sign off on the plan unless the local government paid more of the cost for game–day security and increased the amount of (county-purchased) insurance coverage for the stadium. The dispute continued for months until December 2003, when the county legally declared the stadium a condominium and took ownership. As part of the change, the Bucs were given ownership of portions of the structure. To win the Bucs' approval, the county agreed to refund the team's resultant property tax payments annually.
- On May 25, 2005, NFL owners met in Washington, D.C. to select the host site for Super Bowl XLIII. During the balloting, Raymond James Stadium defeated the Georgia Dome (Atlanta), Reliant Stadium (Houston), and Dolphins Stadium (Miami Gardens).
- After a nearly two-year legal battle, the Tampa Sports Authority came to a settlement with popular sports-seating and telescopic platform/bleacher company Hussey Seating of North Berwick, Maine. Following the stadium's opening in 1998, roughly 50,000 Hussey-manufactured seats at Raymond James Stadium began to fade from their original color – a bright, vibrant shade of red – to a shade of washed-out pink. Spotting this obvious defect, the Buccaneers organization pleaded to the TSA to sue the seating manufacturing company for the cost to replace the affected chairs in 2003. Initially, in May 2004, after testing samples of the seats, Hussey Seating did not find any cause for the fading, and thus, found no reason to replace the seats at the company's cost under the current 10–year warranty. After the TSA cited a portion of the warranty which did, in fact, state that Hussey would replace seats if any fading were to occur, Hussey president Tim Hussey admitted an error in the research and eventually would come to a $1.5 million agreement with the TSA to replace the problem seats. Reportedly, the seat-fading occurred due to a manufacturing error by Hussey, as a UV inhibitor – a sunscreen-like component for the plastic – was forgotten in the mixture used to create the seats. All of the problem seats were replaced by new, non–pink seats in the spring of 2006.
- In December 2015, the Buccaneers and the Tampa Sports Authority reached an agreement to complete over $100 million in improvements and renovations to the stadium. The negotiations took months, and were extended by Bucs' lawyers demanding additional concessions after an agreement was near in September 2015. In the end, the upgrades were paid with at least $29 million of public money, with the remainder paid for by the Bucs in exchange for the right to play a home game at another site beginning in the 2018 season and other concessions. Renovations began in January 2016, and the first phase was complete in time for the 2016 football season.
Notable football games
- Super Bowl XXXV: January 28, 2001 (Baltimore Ravens 34, New York Giants 7 – all-time stadium record attendance 71,921)
- Super Bowl XLIII: February 1, 2009 (Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Arizona Cardinals 23 – attendance 70,774)
NFL Playoff Games
- NFC Divisional Playoff: January 15, 2000 (Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14, Washington Redskins 13 – Buccaneers record attendance 65,835)
- NFC Divisional Playoff: January 12, 2003 (Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31, San Francisco 49ers 6) attendance – 65,599
- NFC Wild Card Playoff: January 7, 2006 (Washington Redskins 17, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10) attendance – 65,514
- NFC Wild Card Playoff: January 6, 2008 (New York Giants 24 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14) attendance – 65,621
College Football Games
- (14) South Carolina 31, vs. (22) Ohio State 28: January 1, 2002 (Outback Bowl stadium record attendance – 66,249)
- (18) USF 21, vs. (5) West Virginia 13: September 28, 2007 (largest non–Super Bowl crowd in stadium history – 67,018)
- The 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship will be held on January 9, 2017 at the stadium.
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- Stadium FAQ
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- Varian, Bill (March 6, 2003). "Hillsborough: Hillsborough Votes Yes on Plan to Own Stadium". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved February 14, 2009.
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- "College Football Playoff". www.collegefootballplayoff.com. Retrieved 2016-01-01.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Raymond James Stadium.|
- Official Website
- Stadium Site on buccaneers.com
- Stadium Site on gousfbulls.com
- Raymond James Stadium Seating Chart
|Events and tenants|
Tampa Stadium/Houlihan's Stadium
|Home of the
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1998 – present
University of Phoenix Stadium
|Home of the
College Football Playoff National Championship
Jacksonville Municipal Stadium
|Host of the
ACC Championship Game
Bank of America Stadium
Tampa Stadium/Houlihan's Stadium
|Home of the
Tampa Bay Mutiny
1999 – 2001
University of Phoenix Stadium
|Host of the Super Bowl
Sun Life Stadium