Raymond James Stadium

Raymond James Stadium, also known as the “Ray Jay”,[5] is a multi-purpose 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 65,908,[6] and it 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.

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. It was known as Tampa Community Stadium during construction, but the naming rights were bought for $32.5 million for a thirteen–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.

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 4 of the 2011 season when it sold enough tickets for its Monday Night game with the Indianapolis Colts on October 3rd 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 World Cup where the US won 3-1.

 

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 that 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.

During Super Bowl XXXV on CBS, the pre–game, halftime, and post–game 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 are among the largest in the league. 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 then-stadium record 71,921.

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

Raymond James Stadium boasts the 2nd best turf in the NFL, according to a 2009 biannual players’ survey.

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