Maybe it's the afterglow of the Super Bowl win in 2003, or "all of the snowbirds from the north living in Florida," but Bucs fans exude a "fun, but respectful" demeanor that is "amazing when we win; damn good when we lose." "Everyone is nice, even to opposing teams' fans" in an "atmosphere that is more of a party." Indeed, this is a "very loud, but not intimidating" crowd. "Given the amount of bandwagon fans, there are a good amount of people who are only there to be 'seen' at a game," a notion that leads some to describe the "family-filled" group as a bit "milquetoast."
5 out of 10
FOOD & SOUVENIRS
Soda (12 oz.)
Beer (12 oz.)
Expected Meal Cost
"There's some decent food in the stadium, but it costs a few bucks." "Every concourse has a food court with six-eight options to choose from," "such as Checkers [burgers] and Pizza Hut." Although "the lines are long at halftime," the "pirate village" behind the ship "is stocked with anything you want." Many suggest grabbing a "giant turkey leg." "And you won't miss the action because the view is excellent." For those flying first-class at the game [i.e. club seats], "the Club Grille serves an awesome Black Angus burger and the Treasure Café has a mouth-watering beef platter." A "Big Buc Brew" for $8 will help wash down that meal, and the fresh lemonade stand and pina colada place "are great on hot days."
6 out of 10
Getting to Raymond James Stadium is "easy if you know the back streets and come early." That isn't to say being "close to all the major highways going into Tampa" is a detriment to the facility; only that the "six-lane road in a heavy commercial area" on which the stadium is built comes "to a standstill too often" due to a combination of "traffic lights and side streets funneling onto it." With "police blocking too many roads around the stadium" in an attempt to organize the traffic flow, "taking shortcuts makes it easier to reach the stadium." That also allows fans to take advantage of "the friendly homes around the stadium that will let you park in their yards for $5-$10 instead of $25 at the stadium." Keep track of those side streets, as getting home can "be disorienting" because police "block off roads that would alleviate traffic congestion and funnel all the traffic in one direction," "often away from where you need to go." Public transportation is limited to regular bus routes, although "several nearby hotels and bars offer shuttle bus service to and from the game."
4 out of 10
Despite "miserable heat" early in the season, "there isn't much drunkenness" at this "serene" scene. "Everyone is friendly and generous with their goods," even if "the barbecue is nothing to write home about." That isn't for lack of trying by a group that includes everyone "from a couple with a throwaway grill to a private motorcoach with a satellite TV." Parking is limited to season-pass holders. The 1999 closing of Al Lopez Park -- an area "across from the stadium with lots of trees and bathrooms -- to tailgating" has caused the pregame tailgate has become more "widespread." And though fans seem to enjoy the "festive atmosphere," the Bucs can't hope to compete in a state where college football -- and all its accoutrements -- is king.
7 out of 10
Jeff Garcia :: Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
Record through Week 9
Players Worth Watching
Jeff Garcia (QB), Joey Galloway (WR), Derrick Brooks (LB)
6 out of 10
The NFL is one of the few places where otherwise cheesy concepts can become legitimately inspiring motifs. In Tampa, it is the pirate theme that runs from pregame videos to in-stadium ads to concession stands which "are very cool." "Nothing beats a Buccaneers touchdown and the cannon blasts that follow" from a 78-foot tall, 43-ton pirate ship at Buccaneer Cove in the north end zone. "It lets you know whose house you are in." That is also apparent "when the Bucs get in the red zone, and the team raises the Jolly Roger flag all around the stadium to signal an impending attack." When not looking to get their inner Captain Morgan on, Bucs fans can enjoy a facility that is "kept very clean," has a "sound system that rocks," "plenty of restroom facilities," "great sight lines wherever you are seated" and "giant video screens with great resolution at each end of the stadium." "Standing room picnic areas behind the end zones" are "great place[s] to hang out and watch the game," especially if you are seated on the west side of the stadium, where, "unless the game is at 4 p.m., you will fry." Though more than a few fans feel the stadium's "leg room is lacking," it's clear Raymond James makes for a "great social environment."
9 out of 10
Raymond James is in a largely "middle income" neighborhood "full of older, understated homes." While many fans appreciate how "friendly" residents offer fans the chance to park in their front yards for much less than the stadium charges, some feel the practice "makes the entire area look like a giant trailer park." The neighborhood isn't much of "a family area," with "strip-club heaven down the street." Despite the images that might conjure, the area is "not crime-ridden" and "is dominated by a community college" west of the stadium and a park "to the north." That doesn't make for any "bars/restaurants that can be pre/post-game destinations," but with "easy access to major roads, there are a few good strips of malls/stores/restaurants within easy reach."
5 out of 10
A team with only 10 winning seasons in its 30-plus-year history -- and a relatively new stadium -- may not have a lot of tradition to offer, but the Bucs have done their best to make up with comfort. The Bucs don't play on "the frozen tundra," nor do they act like they should. The pirate ship, the picnic decks and the island-cabana style concession kiosks aren't classic NFL, but they reflect the locale. Unlike many of the league's newer stadiums, which eschew flavor for faux luxury, Raymond James Stadium makes it abundantly clear that this place is Tampa, and the home of the Buccaneers, albeit with the kind knowing wink that expresses a sense of fun the league desperately needs.