Philadelphia Eagles vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Stadium
December 9, 2012
23 - 21 Loss
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Capacity: 65,657 seats
Playing Surface: Natural Grass
Draft Beer: $7.50
Hot Dog: $5.25
Stadium Parking: $25.00
4201 N. Dale Mabry Highway
Tampa Bay, FL 33603
Stadium Review - Raymond James, the Ultimate Experience
The miserably cold winter weather up north, makes one long for the sunshine and warmer temperatures enjoyed by our NFL brethren based in the southern states. Thankfully, from time to time, the NFL powers that be award us rust belt cities with a December away game in one of the more exotic NFL locales. So when this happens, my advice is to take full advantage.
My Tampa Bay Buccaneers experience actually began on Friday afternoon with a trip to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Team headquarters. The game I chose (Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers), happened to be the 10th anniversary celebration honoring the Super Bowl Champion Bucs from the 2002 season. Working through the Buccaneers marketing department, I had arranged for a luncheon at noon and a private tour of Raymond James Stadium (easily one of the more impressive stadium venues in the National Football League). The luncheon was held in the player cafeteria and I was amazed at the size of everything. Each hardwood oak seat, positioned around one of several round player tables, is designed to hold over 500lbs a piece. The dinner plates were the size of hub caps and they were deceptively dense. I felt like one of the seven dwarfs eating in a house of giants as I tried to manage this massive plate of food in one hand while navigating my way through the player's buffet line. The food was excellent the Bucs practice field is located adjacent to the cafeteria, so we were able to catch some of the player’s final run-throughs before gameday.
The lobby of Buccaneers Team Headquarters is also well worth seeing if you’re lucky enough to score an invite. The 2002 Vince Lombardi Trophy is on display along with several other exhibits from the Super Bowl run. The slab of rock that traveled with the team as part of Jon Gruden’s “Pound the Rock” campaign is accessible to fans and the Bucs have recreated that historic win with a full sized, nine player sculpture featuring key Buccaneers players that brought the first Vince Lombardi Trophy to Tampa.
After lunch, we headed over to Raymond James Stadium to get a behind the scenes look at the home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Stadium tours are offered to the public on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday throughout the year and can be arranged through the stadium website ($5 Adults, $3 Seniors/Children). Stadium staffers lead guests on a superb walk-around, as guests are guided through the Suite level, Press Box, Visitor Locker Room, Field Level and most importantly the Pirate Ship, which is located in Buccaneer Cove in the north endzone.
The Buccaneers Pirate ship was built by Disney Imagineers, and although off limits to the general public on gameday, the stadium tour allows fans to get an up close and personal look at what is the most unique stadium feature in the National Football League. With plenty of photo opportunities and access to most areas of the stadium, this tour is a great way for fans connect with the Bucs gameday experience on a more personal level.
Gameday began on Sunday morning at 8:00am in the private lot of the premiere Tampa Bay Buccaneers tailgating experience, known as the What the Buc Tailgate or WTB. This group of Tampa Bay Buccaneers die hards has been tailgating together for several years and hosts anywhere from 150 – 400 fans on gameday. Participants can bring food to share or provide a donation and away fans are always welcome. The atmosphere is light and friendly and the WTB regulars typically support a different local charity during each tailgate. With a massive barbecue pit that’s trailered to the lot, cornhole tournaments, plenty adults beverages of choice and great food, WTB has amassed a solid following of regulars including some of the more recognizable Bucs supporters. Superfans such as Captain Rino, Buc Nutz, Buc Krazie, and Captain Bones regularly attend.
Their choice to setup within a private lot allows the WTB Crew to set their own schedule, free from the regulations of league mandated tailgating hours of operation. The lot owner provides bathroom facilities and electric power in exchange for a very reasonable $20 per vehicle. In exchange, Rowdy Bucs fans can begin early in the morning and celebrate until the wee hours of the game day eve.
Game time came quickly, so we headed over to Raymond James Stadium. I had scored seats in the suite level, in section 205, which is located on the shaded west side of the stadium. Buying tickets on the shaded side is an important consideration for Raymond James Stadium especially during the early part of the year, as the temperature difference is significant. By gametime, half of the stadium is shielded from the direct rays of the sun, allowing these fans to watch the game in comfort, while those on east side are pounded by sweltering heat of the Florida Sun.
The suite level features an expanded menu including some gourmet items such as Pig Skin Nachos (potato skins topped with nacho toppings), the colossal stuffed potato (topped with pulled pork, green onions and sour cream), and gourmet sandwiches (carved turkey clubs and marinated chicken sandwiches). The sight lines in the Suite Level are excellent and the staff is friendly and helpful. On game days during the early part of the year, the air conditioned, enclosed concourse will pack in patrons as they enjoy beverages at the bar areas and watch the action on big screen TV’s while stadium audio is pumped throughout the concourse. It’s not a bad way to get the best of both worlds.
While making a push for the playoffs, the Bucs visited Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos and came away with a loss during the previous week’s road trip. This week, they were back at Raymond James Stadium to take on a very beatable Philadelphia Eagles team. A win would keep them in the playoff hunt, a loss would essentially eliminate them.
After an abysmal offensive performance in the first half by both teams, the Bucs rallied back in the second half to take the lead. With the game in hand in the final minutes of the game, the Bucs defense took the field, presumably to close out Nick Foles and the Eagles offense to preserve the win, but unfortunately it was not meant to be. The second year Philadelphia quarterback led a masterful touchdown drive that closed out the Bucs’ playoff hopes with a TD pass in the final two seconds of the game. Eagles win 23- 21.
Although the day ended with a loss, I had an incredible time during my trip to Tampa. Special thanks to Matt Chmura of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and to the What the Buc Tailgating Crew for their enhancements to my Bucs Tailgating Adventure.
For more information on the city of Tampa, Florida check out my other reviews by clicking on the links below:
NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Raymond James Stadium - Stadium Tour
NHL: February 11, 2010 - Boston Bruins vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning, St. Pete Times Forum - General Information
|City of Tampa Local Information|
Top Tourist Attractions:
Gulf Boulevard, Yuengling Brewery Tour
Clearwater Beach, The Original Hooters Restaurant
The Cuban Sandwich
Grouper (fixed every which way)
What They're Drinkin':
Cigar City Brewing, Tampa Bay Brewing, Light Beer, everyone drinks light beer ...
What the Buc Tailgate (private lot)
Pewter Nation Buccaneer Tailgate Hospitality Tent
Recreational Vehicle Lot
Pocket Map of Tampa
Stadium Parking Map
Local Sports Media:
The Tampa Tribune
St. Petersburg Times
620 WDAE The Sports Animal
Ybor City (Gaspar's Grotto, Green Iguana, Honey Pot, Cuban Club)
Shepard's in Clearwater
South Howard -SOHO (World of Beer, McDermott's Irish Pub, MacDinton's)
Ybor City (Columbia Restaurant, Tampa Bay Brewing Co., Samurai Blue)
Channelside District (Garage Bar & Grill, Oishi Sushi, Stumps Supper Club)
Berns steakhouse (S. Horward)
Lee Roy Selmon's (sports bar of former Buc - southern BBQ)
Council Oak (inside Hard Rock Casino)
Ceviches (S. Howard)
Cigar City (food trucks Friday and Saturday night)
Getting to the Stadium:
Raymond James Stadium is situated just outside the downtown area. Plan on driving to the stadium and parking in the lots around it. Plenty of parking space is available on gameday without having to arrange for a parking pass in advance. Parking is $25.
Where To Stay:
Definitely plan on staying downtown or at one of the beaches in the Tampa-Clearwater-St. Petersburg area. There's lots of nightlife and lots of things to do in this tourist trap. I would stay at the Hyatt Downtown, The Westin, or the The Waterside Marriott. Be sure to make your way down to Ybor City for a Bourbon Street-type atmosphere on the weekends.
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|Buccaneers Pirate Ship||All Hands on Deck||Field Level is the Place to Be|
|Joe, Nicole, Kevin, Jason, Steven Steiniger||What the Buc Tailgate in Full Swing||Some Nick Foles Supporters|
|A Drink in the Suite Level||Great Seats in Section 205||Die Steiniger kommen ...|
Please feel free to post any suggestions or comments you might have for my journey to
Raymond James Stadium, including the following:
- Local Hotspots (Bar Districts, Restaurants, Clubs)
- Local Foods (Traditional Cuisine, Micro Brews)
- Tailgating Traditions
- Your Experiences or Helpful Hints
- If you saw me let me know!
All commentary will be moderated. Your e-mail address will not be published.
From: Ronnie from Abington
Sent: Monday, February 02, 2009 4:36 PM
||i have been to rayjay 4times.i have been to gillete once and there is no comparison. it was 75 degrees in tampa and it was 31 degrees in boston gilletes jumbotron isnt jumbo at all it is one third the size of bucvision.rayjay has hot chics in bikini tops.gillete has miserable old men in snowsuits.rayjay holds superbowls gillete cant hold rayjays jockstrap!|
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