The Tampa Bay Buccaneers began their playing days in 1976 in the old Tampa Stadium. I spent many fun days in that stadium. As a boy, it seemed like a cathedral. If I listened closely I swear I could almost hear the chorus of angels in the background. The benches were metal with numbers on them anchored to concrete that went up about 100 rows high in the middle of the stadium but dipped down gradually at the end zones. It was a cigar-shaped stadium with only one concourse level, on the ground underneath the stands. ESPN’s Chris Berman nicknamed it “The Big Sombrero” because that’s exactly what it looked like.
Graphic via wordpress
Of course, by NFL standards the stadium was a dump. And in 1998, Raymond Jaymes Stadium opened its doors. Of all the stadiums I’ve been to, this is the nicest one. The seats are like ones found in movie theaters, even in the upper levels, cup holders on every arm rest and plenty of leg room.
The food stands are all in a Disney World-like Pirate of the Caribbean-like motif, which is pretty cool. Nowhere else I’ve been can you immerse yourself in the team’s name by just walking into the stadium. There are people in pirate outfits to assist the fans with any questions, they might have. They have a huge pirate ship that shoots off a cannon whenever the Bucs score.
In the end zone there is a party deck so fans can buy their food, sit at a table and still see the field while they eat, never missing any of the action. That is rare in stadiums. In most, going to the concession stands normally means missing something like a big turnover or a touchdown.
The sound system in the stadium is awesome even if the big video boards are now a bit outdated.
While other stadiums have caught up with Raymond Jaymes as far as comfortable seats and good sight lines, none can compare with the Buccaneer themed décor.
The food stands leave one with plenty to eat at typical stadium prices. You can get a Cuban Sandwich or a good Bratwurst or chicken fingers, Angus Burgers, hot dogs, pizza, and popcorn, candy sodas and beer.
The area surrounding the stadium is not anything too spectacular, so bring your own tailgating supplies for pregame. If you are a baseball fan though, you may want to go check out nearby Legends Field, which is the home of the New York Yankees during Spring Training and the Tampa Yankees of the Florida State League during baseball season. Imagine Yankee Stadium with the upper level sheared off and you get the idea of what it looks like.
Besides the Bucs, the USF Bulls also use the stadium for their home games. If you want to check out the stadium and have the place virtually all to yourself, go to a Bulls game. You won’t get the full effect because it isn’t a Bucs game, but you can get a pretty good idea what it’s like. Also you can just about sit anywhere you want to at some point during the game because at USF games they are plenty of empty seats available.
Whether you decide to go to a Bucs game or a Bulls game, the stadium will leave you impressed.
Graphic via buccaneers