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Raymond James Stadium

Tampa, FL

Home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

3.3

3.6

Raymond James Stadium (map it)
4201 N Dale Mabry Highway
Tampa, FL 33607


Tampa Bay Buccaneers website

Raymond James Stadium website

Year Opened: 1998

Capacity: 65,647

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Arrgh! A Stadium for Swashbucklers

Raymond James Stadium has been the home of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers since 1998, but buried beneath it, like a pirate’s treasure, are the remains of Al Lopez Field. Al Lopez Field served as the spring training home of the Chicago White Sox and the Cincinnati Reds, and also was home to the Tampa Tarpons minor league team from 1955 to 1988.

Raymond James seats 65,908 in its football configuration, but can be expanded to 75,000 for other types of events. It is a busy facility, as it also serves as the home field for the University of South Florida Bulls, the Outback Bowl, the AGA/Budweiser American Invitational equestrian event and the Monster Jam monster truck event on an annual basis. Super Bowls XXXV and XLIII were both held at the stadium, as well.

3.3

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    3

The main food and beverage area at Raymond James Stadium is known as Buccaneers Cove, and looks like a 19th-century pirate village. The Cove area also is home to the famous pirate ship, as well as several Tiki Hut structures designed to provide shade for fans from the Florida heat that lasts well into the season. All of the concession stands feature a continuation of the pirate theme found throughout the stadium, as they have names such as Pizza Plank, The Galley, The Crow's Nest and the Swashbuckler Bar. For the best local flavor, head to the Taste of Tampa stand, which features local favorites such as Cuban sandwiches ($11.25), pepper-crusted roast beef ($11.25) and Yucca fries with boom sauce ($6.00).

Being a season ticket holder for the Buccaneers certainly has its perks, as all concession stands feature a two-tiered pricing structure on every food/beverage item. In most cases, the season ticket holder gets an average 25 percent discount over a single game ticket holder. This may boost season ticket sales, but it is decidedly not fan friendly for fans of the visiting team or for locals who cannot afford a season ticket package.

Raymond James Stadium does provide a wide variety of foods, so everyone attending the game should find something to their liking. Here is an overview of what is available (prices quoted are for a single game attendee): The Galley offers Stadium Nachos, hot dogs or peanuts ($4.25), a Cheddarwurst sandwich ($5.75), the BBQ Bay sandwich ($7.50) and popcorn ($7.25) Drinks come in at $7.25 for a domestic draft beer, $8.00 for a premium canned beer, $5.00 - $6.75 for a regular or large soda and $3.25 for a bottled water. The Tampa Bay Red Sail offers spicy foods, including a heavily seasoned sausage sandwich ($7.50), turkey legs ($9.50) or Cannon Fire nachos ($8.50). For adult beverages, the Swashbuckler Bar offers the most options. A premium cocktail is $9.50, domestic beer in a can is $9.50, and premium beer in a can is $10.00. Wine is $7.50 and local favorite, a frozen cocktail, is $12.00.

One thing I find odd about Raymond James Stadium is that it does not have a permanent team store open to the public throughout the week. Game days are the only day the merchandise stands are open for business.

Atmosphere    4

The Buccaneers make sure the pirate concept is very obvious in almost every aspect of the stadium. The most obvious example of this is the 103-foot, 43-ton replica pirate ship docked beyond the northern end zone. Touchdowns and red zone penetrations are celebrated with the firing of cannons that spew confetti and soft rubber footballs. At select times during the game, the "Yo Ho" song from the Pirates of the Caribbean is played. This in turn starts a mini-Gasparilla Festival (Tampa's largest party, which rivals Mardi Gras, and has a pirate theme). All that is missing is being given an eye patch or a peg leg as you enter the stadium. However, you are in the hotbed of theme parks, and quite honestly, I find these aspects of the stadium experience to be very entertaining.

The stadium seating features the team's signature colors of red and pewter gray. The red seats are for general seating and are 19 inches wide with 32 inches from one seat back to the next. The gray seats signify the club seats, which are a more comfortable 21 inches wide and 32 inches from one seat back to the next. These premium seats are also cushioned, rather than the molded plastic found in the red seats. Raymond James has 12,000 club seats. Access to the club seats is through a separate concourse offering sports bar, more specialized dining options, video walls and lounge seating. For those with even more pirate's treasure, there are 195 luxury suites. These are outfitted with retractable glass windows, a private bar and restroom and multiple TV monitors.

Bucvision provides a high definition view of replays and other information throughout the game. Though not as big as the boards found in Jacksonville's Everbank Field, these are monsters, coming in at 24 feet tall and 92 feet wide. They provide constantly updated game statistics and scores from the other NFL games that are underway.

Neighborhood    3

Raymond James Stadium is on the northern side of Tampa Bay and is located primarily in a commercial district. While this offers great access to the nearby airport, it does not leave much for a person to do entertainment wise in the immediate area of the stadium. Dale Mabry Highway is a very wide and congested thoroughfare, so it is not very pedestrian friendly. The food offerings in the area are basically of the convenience store/ fast food variety. Two exceptions to this rule are Lee Roy Selmon's BBQ and the Brick House Tavern + Tap, which are both within two miles of the stadium. For the most part, the tailgating experience seems to be the preferred dining option before and after the game.

If you do have a car, you are looking at a 10-15 minute drive to the nearby Gulf beaches or the nightlife areas found in downtown Tampa. Cigar City Brewing is a local favorite in the downtown area.

Fans    4

The last few years of losing seasons have definitely had an effect on fan attendance. The Buccaneers had sold out every game held in Raymond James Stadium until 2010. However the team is on the upswing with the arrival of Jameis Winston at quarterback. This has definitely reignited the fervor of the fans.

The team's excellent marketing of the pirate theme is well received by the fans and they are very interactive with the various special cheers and songs offered up by the team. Each Buc first down is signaled by the announcer beginning the cheer with "It's a first down for Tampa...," with the fans finishing the statement with a thunderous "BAAAAAY!!!" The firing of the ship's cannons results in thunderous cheers and the "Yo Ho" pirate shanty is a 50,000 person sing-a-long. Every game at Raymond James is a sea of red in the stands, with a sprinkling of the sherbet-orange jerseys worn in the early years of the franchise.

The tailgate experience at Bucs games is also something to behold. Due to Tampa's excellent weather throughout the football season, people come early and party late. The main tailgating area is directly across the street from the stadium, and it features some of the most elaborate set ups in the NFL. Tampa Bay's NFC South rivals (especially the Falcons and the Saints) travel well and are welcomed good-naturedly by the Buc fans. The Bucs provide shuttles from the tailgate area for older fans or persons with mobility issues (Tampa Bay and St. Pete have one of the largest retirement populations in the country).

Access    3

Raymond James Stadium is located on the northern side of Tampa and is easily accessible from I-275 via the North Dale Mabry exit. The concourses inside the stadium are spacious, and you should not experience too much congestion. There are 20 escalators in the stadium for those in the crow's nest (upper) level of seats. Please remember the security regulations in place throughout the NFL as far as what may and may not be brought into the stadium, and allow plenty of time to go through the security check.

Visiting fans can take advantage of the fact that the stadium is just mere blocks from Tampa's highly-rated airport. A majority of the airport hotels provide shuttles to games, but it truly is within walking distance. This can eliminate the need for a taxi, rental car or to pay for parking.

Return on Investment    3

Parking at Raymond James Stadium lots go for $25 a space (cash only), but there are numerous lots located nearby with prices ranging from $10-$15. RVs have a specially-designated area, with spaces going for $50. Tickets can be had for as low as $35 and games are not usually sellouts, so scalpers will sell the tickets for face value or less. The closest hotels to the stadium also service the nearby Tampa Airport and range from budget ($90) to luxury ($250) accommodations. This typically would result in a higher ROI, but the two-tiered concession pricing system brings this score down.

Extras    3

The first extra has to be the incorporation of the pirate theme into all facets of the stadium to link it to the Buccaneer name. Even if the game is a blowout, you will be entertained. Another extra goes to climate. You probably will not need a jacket for a majority of the season and can watch the game in relative comfort. The third extra is the tailgate experience, which rivals many colleges in its food, music, games and interaction between fans.

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Crowd Reviews

A Swashbuckling Good Time

Total Score: 3.43

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 1
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 3

Tampa Bay has had a long, diverse pro football past, from the winless inaugural season and 0-23 start under John McKay to the Super Bowl-winning team under John Gruden. Currently, the team is struggling to find an identity in the marketplace, but that won't prevent you from having a fantastic time at a Buccaneers game.

Raymond James Stadium offers a little bit of everything in a venue such as large open areas for gathering, character touches that offer variety, and an overwhelming sensation that will provide a swashbuckling good time. In being the final stop in my lengthy pursuit to see a pro football game in each NFL venue, Raymond James Stadium lies among my top ten of places to attend a pro football game.

Fire the Cannons

Total Score: 4.43

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 5

Since its construction in 1998, Tampa's Raymond James Stadium has been regarded as one of the greatest fan experiences you can have in the NFL.

From the music, to the videos on the two jumbotrons, to the uniqueness of the Pirate ship, the experience at "Ray Jay" definitely lives up to the reputation.

Getting your Bucs worth

Total Score: 3.43

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 2
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 3

The iconic pirate ship is the highlight here, but I like the overall stadium design, with ramps at each corner to take you up to the top. The souvenir ice cream helmet was the first I had seen, but at $10 was a bit too much for me. Getting in and out seemed quite easy, helped by many fans leaving a blowout loss early. Fans are passionate and suffering as of 2013, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't visit. Tickets have never easier to acquire here.

A Pirate's Life for Me

Total Score: 3.29

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 2
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 3

Raymond James Stadium was opened in 1999 to replace Tampa Stadium, which had been nicknamed the Big Sombrero due to its unique shape. Sadly, the new venue was constructed in the traditional rectangular style, and is rather dull from the outside. A walk around the perimeter reveals little of interest, with ramps at each corner perhaps the most notable architectural feature.

Despite being a relatively recent addition to the stadium scene, Raymond James Stadium lacks many of the bells and whistles that are featured in newer venues. It is a simple place with one overwhelming theme – the Buccaneers. Although the USF Bulls also play here, the pirate motif is all you will see from the moment you arrive outside the stadium. Few if any teams take their nickname to this extreme, and it does make a visit to RJS quite enjoyable despite the rather disappointing team that calls the stadium home.

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Local Food & Drink

Lee Roy Selmon's  (map it!)

4302 W. Boy Scout Blvd.

Tampa, FL 33607

(813) 871-EATS

http://www.leeroyselmons.com/

Charley's Steak House  (map it!)

4444 W Cypress St

Tampa, FL 33607

(813) 353-9706

http://www.talkofthetownrestaurants.com/

La Teresita  (map it!)

3248 W Columbus Dr

Tampa, FL 33607

(813) 879-9704

http://www.lateresitarestaurant.com/

Rick's on the River  (map it!)

2305 N Willow Ave

Tampa, FL 33607

(813) 251-0369

http://www.ricksontheriver.com/

J Alexander's  (map it!)

913 N Dale Mabry Hwy

Tampa, FL 33609

(813) 354-9006

http://www.jalexanders.com/

Kona Grill  (map it!)

4134 W Boy Scout Blvd

Tampa, FL 33607

(813) 877-5938

http://www.konagrill.com/

Thai Terrace  (map it!)

2055 N Dale Mabry Hwy

Tampa, FL 33607

(813) 877-8955

http://www.thaiterrace.net/

Ruth's Chris Steak House  (map it!)

1700 N Westshore Blvd

Tampa, FL 33607

(813) 282-1118

http://www.ruthschris.com/Restaurant-locations

Brick House Tavern + Tap  (map it!)

1102 N Dale Mabry Hwy

Tampa, FL 33607

(813) 350-9108

http://www.brickhousetavernandtap.com

Local Entertainment

International Plaza  (map it!)

2223 N. West Shore Blvd

Tampa, FL 33607

(813) 342-3790

http://www.shopinternationalplaza.com/

WestShore Plaza  (map it!)

250 Westshore Plaza

Tampa, FL 33609

(813) 286-0790

http://www.westshoreplaza.com/

Green Iguana  (map it!)

2520 N Dale Mabry Hwy

Tampa, FL 33607

(813) 868-7600

http://www.greeniguana.com/

Channelside Bay Plaza  (map it!)

615 Channelside Dr

Tampa, FL 33602

(813) 223-4250

http://www.channelsidebayplaza.com/

Lodging

Tampa Airport Marriott  (map it!)

Tampa International Airport

Tampa, FL 33607

(813) 879-5151

http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/tpaap-tampa-airport-marriott/

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