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Raymond James Stadium

Raymond James Stadium
"Ray Jay"
"The New Sombrero"
"The Pirate Ship"
Location 4201 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, Florida 33607
United States
Owner Hillsborough County
Operator Tampa Sports Authority
Executive suites 195
  • 65,890 (2013–present)
  • (expandable to 75,000)
  • 65,856 (2008–2012)
  • 65,657 (2001–2007)
  • 66,321 (1998–2000)
Surface Tifway 419 Bermuda
Broke ground October 15, 1996[1]
Opened September 20, 1998
Construction cost $168.5 million
($244 million in 2016 dollars[2])
Architect Populous (then HOK Sport)
Structural engineer Bliss and Nyitray, Inc.
Services engineer FSC-Inc.[3]
General contractor Hunt/Metric Joint Venture[4]

Raymond James Stadium, also known as the "Ray Jay",[5] is a multipurpose football stadium located in Tampa, Florida. It is home to the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers as well as the NCAA's South Florida Bulls football team. The stadium seats 65,890,[6] 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.


  • History 1
  • Features 2
  • Nicknames 3
  • Timeline 4
  • Gallery 5
  • Notable football games 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


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.[7] It was known as Tampa Community Stadium during construction, but the naming rights were bought for $32.5 million for a 13–year deal by St. Petersburg-based Raymond James Financial in June 1998.[8] On April 27, 2006, an extension was signed to maintain naming rights through 2015.

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.

The largest crowd ever recorded in Raymond James Stadium came on October 9, 2009, with U2’s 360° Tour. More than 72,000 people were in attendance.[9]

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.[10]


The pirate ship at Raymond James Stadium

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 soft-rubber footballs and confetti 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 onboard 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.[11]

During Super Bowl XXXV on CBS, the pregame, halftime, and postgame desk reporting took place from aboard the pirate ship. NBC's Super Bowl XLIII coverage also emanated from the ship.

The two 'Buc Vision' 92-foot (28 m) wide Daktronics video displays were among the largest in the league when they were built. '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.

In 2003, the corner billboards in the stadium were replaced with rotating trilon billboards.

Raymond James Stadium boasts the second-best turf in the NFL, according to a 2009 biannual players' survey.[12]


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".[13] On occasion during radio broadcasts of games, Buccaneers' radio play-by-play man Gene Deckerhoff refers to the stadium as "Jesse James Stadium".


Buccaneer game action at Raymond 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.[14] 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.[15]
  • 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.[16][17]
  • 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.[18] 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.[7][19] 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.[20] 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.[21]
  • On October 31, 1996, the NFL owners met in 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.[22] 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.[23][24]
  • On May 25, 2005, NFL owners met in 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 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.
Panoramic view from The Pirate Ship during the 2009 off-season
Panoramic view from The Pirate Ship during the 2009 off-season


Notable football games

Super Bowls

NFL Playoff Games

College Football Games


  1. ^ "Patriots Sign Byars".  
  2. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  3. ^ Sports Facilities - FSC-Inc.
  4. ^ Raymond James Stadium
  5. ^ "U2 Fans Line Up Before Dawn at Ray Jay Stadium".  
  6. ^ Stadium FAQ
  7. ^ a b Testerman, Jeff (January 25, 2001). "Super Bowl 2001: We Paid for It; It Paid Off".  
  8. ^ "'"Bucs' New Stadium Gets A Name, New name is 'The Raymond James Stadium. CBS News. December 13, 1999. Retrieved February 14, 2009. 
  9. ^ Daly, Sean (October 10, 2009). "U2 Delivers a Transcendent Performance in Tampa".  
  10. ^ Godfrey, John (June 9, 2012). "A World Cup Qualifying Victory Lacks Quality for the U.S". The New York Times. 
  11. ^ "Raymond James Stadium | Stadium Facts". Retrieved February 14, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Top Turf in the NFL? Cards Best, Steelers Worst". January 29, 2009. Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  13. ^ Deggans, Eric (February 20, 2004). "Chris Thomas Touched Us All".  
  14. ^ "Bucs Stay in Tampa With a Big Price Tag".  
  15. ^ Williams, Chareen (December 7, 1995). Tampa Still Hopeful Bucs Will Stay Put "Tampa Still Hopeful Bucs Will Stay Put" .  
  16. ^ Harry, Chris (July 24, 2005). "Fantastic Voyage".  
  17. ^ Henderson, Joe (September 28, 1995). "Chipping In: Malcolm Glazer Says He'll Pay "About Half" the Cost of a New Stadium As a Seat-Deposit Plan Is Unveiled".  
  18. ^ Washington, Wayne (September 18, 1998). "Stadium Rose Despite Challenges".  
  19. ^ "In Pictures: The Most Valuable NFL Teams". September 12, 2007. Retrieved February 14, 2009. 
  20. ^ Testerman, Jeff (January 24, 2003). "Stadium Tax Helped Pay for Bucs' Success". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved July 28, 2012. 
  21. ^ Canning, Michael (September 29, 2001). "Former Mayor's Opinion of Stadium Hasn't Changed".  
  22. ^ Varian, Bill (April 18, 2003). "Tampabay: Tax Bill Swells as Bucs Stall".  
  23. ^ Varian, Bill (March 6, 2003). "Hillsborough: Hillsborough Votes Yes on Plan to Own Stadium".  
  24. ^ Varian, Bill (December 18, 2003). "Hillsborough: County Act Ends Tax on Stadium".  

External links

  • Official Website
  • Stadium Site on
  • Stadium Site on
  • Raymond James Stadium Seating Chart
Events and tenants
Preceded by
Tampa Stadium/Houlihan's Stadium
Home of the
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

1998 – present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Tampa Stadium/Houlihan's Stadium
Home of the
Tampa Bay Mutiny

1999 – 2001
Succeeded by
last stadium
Preceded by
Georgia Dome
University of Phoenix Stadium
Host of the Super Bowl
XXXV 2001
XLIII 2009
Succeeded by
Louisiana Superdome
Sun Life Stadium
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