This article was originally printed at Stadiumjourney.com , a website dedicated to describing to fans what the experience is like at particular venues of stadiums. It was written by me and is provided to you here at Bleacher Report with the expressed written permission of the site owner. Thanks, JC.
Since it’s 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.
FANFARE Score: 31
Food & Beverage: 3
Raymond James Stadium offers the typical fare in regards to food and beverages. Pizza, Hot dogs, Pretzels, and the like are all available.
The stadium doesn’t really take advantage of the city’s heritage, offering no Spanish styled meals.
The prices are a little high, especially in this market, where the median salary is $35,000 a year.
Season ticket holders are offered perks like free refills on soda. There are plenty of concessions and vendors for you to purchase from.
Raymond James Stadium offers a unique array of interactive fan experiences.
It boasts two large jumbotrons at each end of the stadium. The jumbotrons provide videos that include funny anecdotes from Buccaneer players, video on Buccaneers history, bloopers, as well as the Buccaneer Ship race.
The ship race consists of Buccaneer “pewter parter” Coca Cola products racing ships and is quite entertaining during the first quarter to second quarter break.
Right before opening kickoff, the Buccaneers play a video of the Buccaneers ship fending off an attack from opponents. With “O Fortuna” blaring in the background, the pirate ship rams its opponents, culminating with the firing of cannons and sinking of the day’s opponent.
As the video fires its cannons, the cannons from the ship in the end zone fires as well. Once the video concludes, Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train blasts over the loud speakers.
The cannons on the Buccaneer ship will go off for the following situations...
One cannon shot for entering the red zone (a warning shot to the opponents).
Three cannon shots for a field goal.
Six cannon shots for a touchdown.
Also, when the team enters the red zone, around the stadium red flags bearing the Buccaneers logo are raised around the stadium.
Buccaneers fans themselves are very enthusiastic when the team is doing well. If the team is not doing well, it can be pretty stale.
Opposing fans can regularly get tickets to games because of some fan apathy about the current team’s performance.
In good seasons, Raymond James stadium can be rocking with an excited, vibrant crowd.
The stadium sits on the main thoroughfare of the city, Dale Mabry Highway that can connect you to a number of nearby restaurants and bars.
There is ample parking everywhere, including a parking lot next to the Buccaneers new state of the art practice facility, called “One Buccaneer Palace” by some.
Traffic can get a little congested getting out of the stadium, but that depends on the performance of the game. If it’s a lopsided game, many fans leave early.
Tailgating is great at Raymond James Stadium. The Buccaneers offer fans the opportunity to participate in their sponsored tailgate for a price.
Or you can simply meander around the stadium and visit various radio station sponsored tailgates and other public tailgates where you’ll find brats, BBQ chicken and other tailgate favorites.
For nightlife, some say that Ybor City is like a miniature New Orleans.
One of the best restaurants is owned by Tampa Bay Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon.
Lee Roy Selmon’s (4302 W Boy Scout Blvd, South Tampa FL 33607) offers southern BBQ and plenty of high def televisions.
Buccaneer fans are a strange lot. With Tampa Bay being a transient community (most residents were born in the Northeast or Midwest), some in the fan base have divided loyalty to the team and the old team they grew up watching.
It’s common place to see Buc fans arrive in an opponent’s jersey for one game and Buccaneers jersey the next.
You’ll typically see many opposing jerseys in the stands.
Fan behavior is usually good, but there are times when opposing team fans can provoke altercations (especially when Philadelphia or New York is in town).
The majority of Buc fans are passionate about their team, but there are some who will leave the game at the conclusion of the third quarter to beat traffic.
When the Bucs are playing well, the stadium can be loud and electric. When they’re not, there can be cursing and angry screaming heard from the stands.
Parking is relatively available and not overly expensive. You can park right next to the stadium for as little as $25.
Usually, you can get in and out of the area relatively easy.
Return on Investment : 5
The Bucs have a long string of sellouts, but with the economy and current state of the team, tickets are available for each game. Usually, the Bucs can make the amount up to avoid the blackout.
For fan experience and pure fun, it’s hard to beat going to a Bucs game, especially when the team is competitive.
Having sat in the nose bleeds and at the lower level 50 yard line, I can safely say there’s not a bad seat in the house.
From the pirate ship to the videos and music, Raymond James Stadium is one of the most unique and exciting atmospheres you can have at a football stadium.
While the crowd can be a bit fair-weather, when their team is playing well it can be one of the loudest stadiums in the league.
Night games at Raymond James Stadium are even more fun. With the crowd having hours to tailgate, it can be a rowdy, wild experience.
Raymond James Stadium is majestic in its aesthetic beauty as well as its cleanliness. The staff is friendly and helpful, security is tight and responds quickly to disturbances.