Located on the northwest side of Tampa, close to the bay, Raymond James Stadium has been home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers since 1998, after owner Malcolm Glazer insisted on a new stadium to replace the old facility, Tampa Stadium. The new venue was publicly funded with a budget of about $168 million. Before opening to host its first game on September 20th, 1998, the stadium was called Tampa Community Stadium. Raymond James Financial stepped in to buy the naming rights before the inaugural event, paying $32.5 million over thirteen years. The financial firm agreed to extend this arrangement until at least 2015.
Nicknamed the Pirate Ship or Ray Jay, depending on who you speak to, one of the unique features of Ray Jay is a pirate ship that weighs 43 tons and measures 103 feet in length. This ship fires salvos of souvenirs and marks points scored with cannon blasts, much to the crowd’s delight. In fact, the giant metal ship hosted the broadcast teams both times Ray Jay hosted the Super Bowl. Whenever the Buccaneers enter the red zone, flags that surround the upper deck become raised, similar to the way flags were raised when pirates attacked during the swashbuckling era of the 1700s and 1800s.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Stadium
The Bucs started off the new millennium as one of the better teams in the NFL, earning a Vince Lombardi Trophy in 2002 for walloping the Oakland Raiders during Super Bowl XXXVII. Unfortunately, interest in the team has diminished to the point where games stopped selling out in 2010, breaking a twelve-year sellout streak while triggering local television blackouts. Since then, the Buccaneers have been awful at home, going 13-27 for a winning percentage of .325. The 2014 season saw the team reach a new low, losing all eight games at Ray Jay. Comparatively, their play on the road is slightly less terrible, earning a record of 14-26 during the same period of time.
A 2010 survey of the NFLPA revealed that players consider Raymond James Stadium to be the second best natural playing field in the entire league. Only the University of Phoenix was rated as having a better natural grass field. This is the second straight survey in which these two facilities were ranked number one and two by the players. The type of natural turf used at this facility is Tifway 419 Bermuda grass.
Date Opened: September 20th, 1998
Construction Cost: $168.5 million
Capacity Attendance: 75,000
Playing Surface: Tifway 419 Bermuda
Previous Tampa Bay Buccaneers Stadiums
Other Major Events
Raymond James Stadium has hosted a pair of Super Bowls over the past decade and a half, starting with Super Bowl XXXV, which took place on January 28th, 2001. The score wasn’t even close, as the Baltimore Ravens destroyed the New York Giants by a score of 34-7. On February 1st, 2009, Super Bowl XLIII took place at Ray Jay, with the Arizona Cardinals falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers by a score of 27-23, which misrepresents the fact that the game wasn’t very close until a fourth quarter rally that saw the Cardinals put 16 points on the board.
The Outback Bowl has taken place at Ray Jay every year since 1999. The University of South Florida Bulls also moved into the confines of Raymond James Stadium in the same year, drawing crowds that approach 70,000 fans.