- Chris Green
Raymond James Stadium – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29
Raymond James Stadium 4201 N Dale Mabry Highway Tampa, FL 33607
Year Opened: 1998
Raise the Flags!
Tampa Bay football has a long and storied history, highlighted by the team’s 2003 Super Bowl victory. The stadium may be generic in its overall aesthetic initially, but a closer look reveals a facility that’s got some unique features. Oh yeah, did we mention the giant pirate ship on the north end zone concourse? And, yes, the cannons really do fire.
Food & Beverage 4
Being in an NFL Stadium has its perks, chief among those being the sheer quality and variety in the concessions available on game day. Whether you want your standard stadium fare like burgers, hot dogs, and nachos, or if you have a feeling for something a little different, like a fresh-pressed hot Cuban sandwich, you can find what you need at Raymond James Stadium. Prices are comparable to those at other sports venues, so expect to spend between $10-$15 per person for a main dish and drink.
The other added bonus at Raymond James Stadium is that the end zones feature open air plazas that give you a great view of the playing field during the game, meaning you don’t have to worry about missing the next play while you are sitting down to eat.
Raymond James Stadium is your quintessential 1990’s football stadium in general layout and construction. It features a lot of exposed concrete and generally lacks any real architectural features. Nevertheless, the Buccaneers have made the best of this without a need for extensive renovations. The Tampa Bay branding is everywhere, from paint colors to logos and photos being displayed. The facilities are clean and easy to find thanks to the signage all over. Fans can also expect a generally comfortable experience here thanks to the palm trees in the end zone and the Florida feel of the small torches around the exterior of the stadium.
Raymond James Stadium itself is a bit removed from the downtown Tampa area. Thankfully, there are restaurants on the main drag nearby, but there is also an assortment of strip clubs and adult stores, making the drive into the stadium a bit of an interesting one to say the least.
For hotels, look to the Tampa Stadium Hotel or the Hilton Tampa Airport Westshore. For food, there is a popular Chili’s down the street, as well as a new Panera Bread. Also, a short drive from Raymond James Stadium is the Cigar City Brewing Company, where you can take tours of the brewery and sample locally made cigars. The Tampa International Plaza Mall is not far either.
Typical of any sports franchise in Florida, the stadium is not always filled to 100% capacity on game day. Blame this on the overwhelming amount of other things to do in Florida, or on the usually high temperatures for afternoon games, but the end result of rather empty upper deck seating remains the same. Taking in a game at Raymond James Stadium is also not as loud as other NFL venues, and as some fans covet that roar of the crowd on scoring plays, you may be disappointed by the general lack of overwhelming enthusiasm that fans can display on your average play. Like other Florida sports experiences, a lot of fans in Tampa go more for the party and the event and less for the football competition on the field.
To get to Raymond James Stadium, you can take I-275 through the Tampa area. The main roads in and out of the stadium area are all multiple lanes wide, meaning traffic doesn’t get as congested as at other sports stadiums that only have one-lane roads. Parking on site is plentiful, as is the less expensive parking in various lots and properties around the area. The gates are all open when the stadium opens, so fans are not forced into using just one or two of the gates to get in and out. Raymond James Stadium also now uses the commonly accepted Clear Bag Policy guidelines for those coming into the game.
Return on Investment 3
NFL tickets are always going to be pricey, and Tampa Bay is no exception. With that said, the Bucs tend to remain near the bottom of the list for costliest average NFL ticket prices, which means you won’t have to spend as much here as you would at other stadiums. Coupled with the team’s growing young player base and promising results, fans are starting to fill up the seats more and more.
New this 2018 season is the south end zone plaza beach area – this area features actual sand “beach” with beach chairs, cabanas, and tiki huts that fans can enjoy during pre-game partying. There are also DJ’s and giveaways here, as well as food and drink booths for fans who don’t want to spend the whole pre-game in the parking lot.
The Bucs’ famed Pirate Ship is also an interesting feature – this massive ship is located on the end zone plaza at the north side of the stadium. After each scoring play, a canon is fired for each point scored. During the game, freebies are thrown by the ship’s crew to fans down below. You can even get up to the ship and party during the game.
Finally, Raymond James Stadium features several homages to the team’s past, including their 2003 Super Bowl victory via the championship flag that flies high above the stadium’s sidelines.
The home of the Bucs may be missing that one little thing which would catapult it into the top ranks of football stadiums in America, but it is nonetheless an enjoyable experience. Proper planning for likely-to-be-congested roads helps a whole bunch here, and the tailgating is top-notch. Once inside, you will have a good time under the warm Florida sun; just don’t forget to bring a full wallet.