Tampa's new 65,000 seat Raymond James Stadium will be built next to the site of the 30 year old Houlihan's Stadium. It will represent the unique image identified with the city while displaying brightly designed architecture and festive landscaped endzone plazas. The design allows for greater technology for the future, wider concourses for fan comfort and 65% of seating on the sidelines. Tampa, host to Super Bowls XVIII ('84) and XXV ('91), and will be host to the first Super Bowl of the new millennium, Super Bowl XXXV in January, 2001.
Owner: Tampa Sports Authority, owners of Houlihan's Stadium, Tampa Bay Lightning's Ice Palace Arena, Legends Field, the New York Yankees' major league spring training facility and manager of three city golf courses.
WHAT: $168.5 million project budget. 65,000 spectator seats - with expansion possibilities to 75,000 for special events. 12,000 club seats and two air-conditioned club lounges. 100 luxury suites built out and 71 undeveloped suites
WHERE: On the site adjacent to the current stadium. Raymond James Stadium will be built while the current stadium remains standing.
WHEN: Construction began in October, 1996. Completion is slated for September 20, 1998. At that time the current stadium will be razed.
WHO: Hillsborough County voters passed a half-cent sales tax for community investment purposes on September 3, 1996. Eleven percent of the tax will be dedicated to stadium construction with the remaining portion going to schools, fire/law enforcement and infrastructure. A portion of the community investment tax and the State of Florida sales tax rebate will fund the stadium construction.
Architect: HOK Sport Faciltiy Group, Kansas City, MO. The stadium planned for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will feature 65,000 permanent seats and 5,000 temporary seats, 100 luxury suites and 12,000 club seats.
Carol writes: I am a construction inspector at Raymond James Stadium. There is a 7-story ramp on each corner,and the atriums on the East and West sides are located in the centers not off to the sides.
December 26, 1997 - Daniel J. Haya writes: The new stadium will not be called "Houlihan's Stadium". The Buccaneers, as per their lease agreement with the TSA, do have the naming rights to the new stadium. However, they have recently sent out pamphlets to major corporations to name the new stadium at a cost of about $2 million per year. It is possible, I suppose, that owner Malcolm Glazer could try to funnel some more money out his Houlihan's restaurant chain, but it is doubtful considering the scrutiny he received from the other Houlihan's stockholders as well as stockholders of some of his other majority holdings.
June 26, 1998
Bucs' new stadium finally gets sponsor
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' new $168 million stadium finally has an official name.
The NFL team and St. Petersburg-based Raymond James Financial announced Friday a 13-year naming rights agreement for Raymond James Stadium.
"From our perspective, it's going to help us sign some great players and keep good players in the community," Tampa Bay owner Malcolm Glazer said. "We want to have the best possible team. This arrangement helps us financially."
Financial terms were not disclosed. The agreement includes an additional five-year option.
"This is a business decision," said Thomas James, chairman for the company. "Clearly, we think that this is a valuable business decision on our part to get the recognition nationally that the naming opportunity affords us."
The stadium is scheduled to open Sept. 20 when the Bucs host Chicago in their 1998 home opener. The 65,000-seat facility is replacing 31-year old Houlihan's Stadium, which served as the Bucs' home since the franchise was
established in 1976.
Raymond James Stadium will also be home for Major League Soccer's Tampa Bay Mutiny, the University of South Florida football program and the Outback Bowl.
It will be the site of Super Bowl in January 2001.
Gun-Firing Pirate Ship To Grace Stadium - (TAMPA - July 30, 1998) -- While the rejuvenated Tampa Bay Buccaneers pack plenty of punch, their new stadium will have even more firepower. The Bucs' owners are promising a 103-foot, 43-ton steel-and-concrete replica pirate ship at Raymond James Stadium . . . complete with a cannon that will fire soft-rubber footballs and confetti each time the Bucs score a touchdown. The team's management says the idea is to create a memorable image for Television lenses. Vice President Bryan Glazer says construction on the $3 Million ship has been underway for a month already and will be part of a pirate village in the north end zone. "We're in theme park central, and we wanted to make something that would fit in with Disney World and Universal."
January 29, 1999 - A survey of players by the NFL Players Association voted Tampa Bay the best field in the league, followed by Carolina, Jacksonville, Miami and Baltimore.
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY DEBATES RAYMOND JAMES STADIUM TAX ISSUE
July 8, 1999
Copyright 1999 MediaVentures
Here's the dilemma: Hillsborough County can accept the deed to Raymond James Stadium and not collect a nickel in real estate taxes because the county cannot collect taxes on itself. Or it can leave the deed in the hands of Tampa Sports Authority and force the Authority to tax taxpayers for the $5 million a year needed for the debt. Forget billing the Buccaneers. Their agreement with the Authority protects them from the tax liability.
In a meeting last week, the county commission could not decide what move to make, so it put the matter off until August.
TAMPA SPORTS AUTHORITY MUST FOOT $5.1 MILLION TAX BILL
August 12, 1999
Copyright 1999 MediaVentures
A decision by the Hillsborough County Commission puts the Tampa Sports Authority on the hook for a $5.1 million property tax bill covering Raymond James Stadium. The team's lease with the Authority protects it from paying property taxes. If the county decides the stadium is taxable, the authority - by using tax money - would have to pick up the tab. The authority has asked the county not to charge tax on the stadium because it could not afford to pay the bill. Before responding, the county says it wants to examine the leases to see if the property should be taxable. They are concerned that if they decide to tax the venue, it could endanger the tax exempt bonds sold to build the stadium.
The delay means the Authority must dip into reserves to pay the bill and hope it can convince the county in the future to remove the debt. Confusing the issue is a recent court decision involving Sebring International Raceway that says a public venue can be taxed if it is controlled by a private company. The issue has been appealed to the state's Supreme Court.
The debate led to an earlier fight between the county and the team over its luxury suite and naming rights contracts. Under a judge's threat of a $200,000-a-day fine, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers agreed to release stadium revenue documents to Hillsborough County. The Buccaneers argued that the 168 leases were signed by another limited partnership, not the team. Since that partnership was not a party to the lease, it says it should be exempt from public records laws.
TAMPA SPORTS AUTHORITY MAY NEED COUNTY FUNDS
August 19, 1999
Copyright 1999 MediaVentures
The Tampa Sports Authority says having to pay a $5.1 million property tax bill on Raymond James Stadium could leave it short of funds and it may need Hillsborough County money to survive next year. The bill taps the Authority's savings which had been used to pay the higher costs of operating the new stadium as compared with Houlihan's Stadium.
It costs the Authority $5.4 million annually to operate and maintain the venue, compared with $3.7 million for Houlihan's Stadium. The phone bill has gone from $32,000 to $135,000 because of additional phones, primarily in the press box. Insurance costs also nearly doubled.
The Authority must also spend $150,000 a year to lease land for parking that it sold to raise cash for stadium construction. The parking revenue goes to the Buccaneers, which pays $3.5 million a year to lease the venue. The team also gets the first $2 million in after-expense earnings from other events at the stadium and half of all profits above $2 million.
BUCCANEERS TO GET NEW PRACTICE VENUE
September 23, 1999
Copyright 1999 MediaVentures
Plans are nearly complete to build a new $12 million training facility for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Funds are coming from the Community Investment Tax approved by voters
in 1996. The team is responsible for costs above $12 million. Unlike Raymond James Stadium, the team will be responsible for property taxes on the training center, along with
operational expenses. It will take up to 18 months to build the facility that will include two complete practice fields.
TAMPA SPORTS AUTHORITY WON'T STAND FOR RULE BREAKERS
September 30, 1999
Copyright 1999 MediaVentures
Security officers at Raymond James Stadium are enforcing rules prohibiting standing against fans who tarry too long on their feet when cheering for the Buccaneers. Team officials say the rule isn't theirs and they want fans to cheer the team on. The Sports Authority says it understands fans may be moved to stand and cheer, but it wants them to promptly return to their seats to keep pathways clear in the case of an emergency and to maintain a clear view for all fans.
At least one fan has been ejected from the stadium for violating the policy. The Authority also directed that warnings be placed on 1,200 seats, making fans aware of the policy.
TAMPA BAY SETTLE SEATING SUIT WITH FANS
October 5, 2000
Copyright 2000 MediaVentures
Fans who think they got a raw deal on seat assignment at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' new Raymond James Stadium may be able to enter a drawing to get better seats.
The plan is part of a lawsuit settlement by four fans who say VIPs got better seats than they did when the team ignored its own seating guidelines. The settlement
makes 120 seats available, from which the 120 fans get first choice. Nearly 18,000 others that are considered part of the class action could enter a drawing for the other
seats. Most seats are on the upper deck, but 32 are near the 50-yard line.
The tentative settlement came in June and few fans have asked to take part in the drawing. Taking part meant giving up current seats and the risk that they could get
less desirable positions. Some 250 fans opted out of the class and are free to pursue other remedies.
THE ULTIMATE SPORTS ROAD TRIP
By: Andrew Kulyk & Peter Farrell
December 6, 1999 & December 5, 2004 - Raymond James Stadium is the beautiful home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Opened in 1998, this venue is also the home of the University of South Florida Bulls and was the host venue for Super Bowl XXXV back in 2001. Prior to 1998, the Bucs had played at Houlihan Stadium, also knows as "The Big Sombrero" and this stadium was right next door. The old venue was then demolished, and with the move to RJS, the bad old history and traditions of the futile Bucs was bulldozed with the building. Indeed, an exciting new chapter for the Bucs began in conjunction with the opening of the new stadium.
|Raymond James Stadium Ranking by USRT|
|Fan Support|| 7|
|Concourses/Fan Comfort|| 6|
|Bonus: Tailgate Scene|| 2|
|Bonus: Pirate Ship|| 2|
|Bonus: Rally Flags|| 2|
|Total Score|| 63.5|
Getting to the Venue
Travelers flying into Tampa International Airport can actually see the stadium on the approach, as it is located just east of the airport, along Dale Mabry Blvd. The best way to get here from any direction is to follow I-275 and exit Dale Mabry north. Public transportation is pretty much non existent, so driving to the venue is pretty much your only option. Many of the stadium lots are reserved for permit holders, but general parking is available at the old Tampa Bay shopping center on Hillsborough Ave ($20) and private lots are in abundance, especially east of the stadium in the residential district along Himes Avenue.
Outside the Venue
For a stadium that kind of sits in the middle of nowhere, there really is a lot going on around it. First of all, Tampa Bay has developed quite a tailgate scene, which is pretty easy to do when you have plenty of surface parking around the stadium. Right across the street to the west is Legends Field, spring training home of the New York Yankees, and their parking lots are in use on game day. To the south along Dale Mabry is a bustling commercial district, plenty of casual restaurant chains and even *ahem*, Mons Venus, a nightclub catering to those of us who enjoy the art of dance. Along Himes Avenue to the east of the stadium vendors set up carts to sell food and souvenirs.
Architecture and Concourses
Here is a building that looks stunning and dramatic from the outside, sort of like a giant fortress, with a beautifully landscaped main entrance plaza at the south end zone. Glass atriums and separate club entrances can be found on the east and west sides of the building. In each corner are ramp and escalator towers to take fans to the upper levels. The 100 level concourse is very roomy and easy to navigate. A large public plaza in the south end zone all serves as a great meeting spot and viewing area. The pirate ship is on the north end zone, and THAT is what makes this building special and unique.
How many superlatives can we use to describe this scene - seats are pewter and red in team colors, and along each sideline are stationary marquees showing corporate sponsors. Two gigantic wide screen video boards dominate each end zone, crystal clear and the Bucs are right on the money in showing replays, video clips and great special effects. But the signature architectural element of this building is a huge replica pirate ship in the north end zone plaza! This, set in the midst of a replica carribean village, complete with papaya huts. The village also offers up many concession stands. This was THE place to hang out during the game and it was so crowded we had a difficult time navigating through this area.
In keeping with the pirate and carribean theme, concession stands bear names such as "Treasure Cafe", "The Galley" and "Crows Nest" among others. Grilled burgers and chicken sandwiches, bbq beef and pork platters, all kind of specialty sausages, chicken caesar salads and gourmet pizzas make up the menu along with traditional fare. Colorful concession canopies brighten up the concourses and each concession stands has its own theme.
A total of 195 suites straddle the sidelines along three levels, along with sideline club seats on the 200 level sidelines. A nicely appointed club lounge, air conditioned with high ceilings serves the premium seat holders, with sit down dining as well as premium concessions such as the Club Deli with a carving station and the Club Grille offering Black Angus burgers.
The wretched futility of this sorry franchise finally became a fading memory when the Bucs won their first Super Bowl in 2002. Their championship "banner", if you will, is actually displayed as one of the sails on the pirate ship in the end zone. There is also a championship flag at the top of the upper deck on the visitors' side.
Touchdowns, Extra Points, Fumbles...
Touchdown To the Bucs event presentation efforts. The pirate theme is everywhere, pure and simple - for every touchdown celebration the pirate ship fires its cannons. "Yo-Ho" pirate songs are the norm, with staffers and guests on the ship tossing beads to the fans. And kind of a cool touch - when the home team gets in the red zone, rally flags are raised on the flag poles all around the top of the stadium.
Touchdown to the Ultimate Sports Road Trip karma, which brought the Bucs big wins on both our visits here. In 1999 it was a big Monday night matchup against the Vikings, and an electrified packed house on hand went home happy as the Bucs throttled the Vikes 24-17. Even better result on our return visit as it was all Bucs all the time beating up on Michael Vick and the Falcons by a 27-0 score.
Assist Bandwagon fans or die-hard fans? A Bucs ticket was always an easy thing at the Sombrero, but sellouts at RJS are the norm and the Bucs season ticket waiting list is in the tens of thousands. Will Tampa Bay fans stick with the program if and when the team's fortunes turn sour? Time will tell.
Fumble No bad sphincter police stories here, as game day staff is pretty laid back from our observations, but one thing we noticed... up in the 300 level there are three ways to get downstairs. The ramp (long walk), the escalator (long line) or the stairs. Just one problem. Beefy, snarly security guards stand at the top of the staircases, and inexplicably, shoo people away and towards the ramps and escalators.
Touchdown not only is there a big pirate ship in the north end zone, but an entire island village, complete with tropical drink bars and specialty concession stands. This area is jam packed throughout the game, and is the coolest meeting spot in the stadium by far.
Special Thanks to our good friend (and USRT HOF inductee) Andy Needham of St. Petersburg, who made available his season tickets for our second visit, and organized a nice tailgate to boot.
New stadiums have opened around the NFL since this one, and the bar seems to be raised with each one in terms of size, architecture and opulence. Yet Raymond James Stadium still holds up well against its peers. For the most part, you will be enjoying great Florida weather. The tailgating is terrific. The building is beautiful and food choices and amenities, including the video boards, add to the game day experience. But the best props are reserved for that terrific pirate ship! The whole pirate and carribean theme dominates your visit here, and attending a game at RJS is almost like spending a day at a Disney theme park. Some football purists might say that's a bad thing, but as far as we're concerned, all we've got to say on this is "Yo-Ho!"
TAMPA AUTHORITY MAY TAKE ON BOOKING ROLE
December 23, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures
Tampa, Fla. - The Tampa Sports Authority is considering taking on the role of booking agent
for events at Raymond James Stadium, the Tampa Tribune reported.
Instead of relying on concert promoters to book acts, officials with the authority, which typically rents out the field, suites, grassy parking lots and even the pirate ship at Raymond James Stadium for a variety of events, say they will handle those duties themselves.
"We are looking to do this often," the authority's executive director Eric Hart said.
The first test is March 19, when country singer Kenny Chesney and opening act The Zac Brown Band roll into town.
"This is the first time we've done a concert on our own," authority spokeswoman Barbara Casey told the Tribune. "We're the ones promoting it. And the promoters assume all the risks."
Those risks include acts canceling tour dates, or paying a group $100,000 to play in the stadium if ticket sales are not enough to cover the cost of hiring the act, Hart said.
Authority officials are confident that won't happen with the Chesney show.
"We did our homework," Hart said. "Kenny Chesney did well in this market. We know it has potential. We weren't offering this out to a national promoter."
Chesney last played at the stadium July 1, 2006. Total profit from ticket sales was $351,732. About 41,200 fans attended the show.
The move to promote acts that can guarantee brisk ticket sales makes financial sense, Hart said.
The authority runs on a deficit of about $3 million per year, which is covered by taxpayers.
"We're looking for any additional revenue we can to relieve the cost to the taxpayers," Hart said.
Additionally, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lay claim to the first $2 million in revenue generated
by all non-team events held at the stadium, according to an agreement with the team's owners, the newspaper said. After that, the sports authority gets half the profits.
Since opening the stadium in 1998, the taxpayer-backed authority seldom crosses the $2 million threshold. In 2006, Chesney's last concert at the stadium helped the authority go beyond that threshold for the first time.
The sale of concessions, the leasing of the field for other events like monster truck shows, renting out suites for wedding receptions and birthday parties and University of South Florida Bulls home football games also generate revenue for the Bucs and the authority.
BUCS TO PAY FOR REVENUE SHORTFALLS DURING LOCKOUT
March 17, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures
Tampa, Fla. - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have offered to make up revenue shortfalls on
stadium earnings if games are canceled this season to protect the Tampa Sports Authority from raising prices when games resume, the Tampa Tribune reported.
The Tampa Sports Authority, which operates the stadium, has been concerned about the lockout. The sports authority tacks an 8 percent surcharge onto ticket prices, which helps cover the stadium's operating costs. The surcharge is capped at $2.50.
The lockout threatens to cancel some or all of the Bucs' games this year and that would prevent the sports authority from collecting all the surcharges it needs to run the stadium. Depending on how many games are canceled, it could wind up about $800,000 short, sports authority executive director Eric Hart, told the Tribune.
The sports authority has contemplated tacking a 15 percent charge onto concessions and a $5 charge onto parking. That would have applied to even non-football events, Hart said.
The other option was for the Bucs to make up the stadium shortfall. The team has agreed to pay to cover the potential gap so the sports authority doesn't have to tack on the extra surcharges, the newspaper said.
The team is asking the sports authority to reimburse it out of future stadium ticket surcharges. The issue will come up at an upcoming Tampa City Council meeting because the team and the sports authority need the city and Hillsborough County to approve the deal.
"We're committed to ensuring that our community will not be subjected to additional TSA surcharges in the event of a shortfall," Bucs spokesman Jonathan Grella told the newspaper. "That said, we continue to be optimistic that we will have a 2011 NFL season and are preparing for the season to take place."
In the past, the team has covered the sports authority's funding shortfalls without asking to be reimbursed, but the gap was never as big as this year's, Hart said.
While the team may be acting in the interest of fans, the newspaper said the Bucs also could be hurt if the price of hamburgers and parking rises too high. According to the Bucs' stadium contract, the sports authority has to turn over the first $2 million in profit it makes from the taxpayer-funded stadium to the team.
The Bucs then share any remaining profit 50-50 with the sports authority. The sports authority gets some of its profit from its share of parking and concessions sales, the newspaper reported.
The collective bargaining agreement between the league and players association recently expired after months of negotiations. The NFL imposed a lockout on players, putting games in jeopardy. The union decertified, clearing the way for class-action lawsuits against the league.
June 9, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures
Raymond James Stadium is getting revamped, more vivid video boards two years from now
and visitors to Hillsborough County will foot much of the bill, the Tampa Tribune reported. The video board improvements, estimated to cost $7.7 million, will present high-definition game replays to fans beginning with the 2013 football season. The scoreboard gadgetry is just one facet of an $18.7 million overhaul planned for the stadium over the next two years. In addition to the video board updates, locker and press room floors at the stadium will be recarpeted, refrigerators and ice makers in luxury suites will be replaced and the sound system will be updated.
December 22, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' have completed a "beta test" of in-stadium Wi-Fi that can provide live streaming video on smart phones. The initial installation is complete, but the team asked season-ticket holders to take part in a test group during the game against the Dallas Cowboys. By using the Bucs' mobile app, fans in the stadium could view live streaming video and play-by-play coverage, according to a letter sent to season-ticket holders.