Raymond James Stadium

Raymond James Stadium
"Ray Jay"
"The New Sombrero"
"The Pirate Ship"
Address 4201 N. Dale Mabry Highway
Location Tampa, Florida
Coordinates 27°58′33″N 82°30′12″W / 27.97583°N 82.50333°W / 27.97583; -82.50333Coordinates: 27°58′33″N 82°30′12″W / 27.97583°N 82.50333°W / 27.97583; -82.50333
Owner Hillsborough County
Operator Tampa Sports Authority
Executive suites 195
  • 65,890 (2013–present)
  • (expandable to 75,000)
  • 65,856 (2008–2012)
  • 65,657 (2001–2007)
  • 66,321 (1998–2000)
Surface Tifway 419 Bermuda
Broke ground October 15, 1996[1]
Opened September 20, 1998
Construction cost US$168.5 million
($245 million in 2016 dollars[2])
Architect Populous (then HOK Sport)
Structural engineer Bliss and Nyitray, Inc.
Services engineer FSC-Inc.[3]
General contractor Hunt/Metric Joint Venture[4]

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 Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League (NFL) as well as the NCAA's South Florida Bulls football team. The stadium seats 65,890,[6] and 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 Bowls XXXV and XLIII, and will host the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship game.


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.[7]

It was known as Tampa Community Stadium during construction, but the naming rights were bought for US$32.5 million for a 13–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. In May 2016 the Buccaneers announced that the naming rights were extended an additional 12 years ensuring that Raymond James Financials name will continue to appear though 2028.[9]

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.[10]

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 four of the 2011 season, when it sold enough tickets for its Monday night game with the Indianapolis Colts on October 3 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 FIFA World Cup, which the United States won 3-1.[11]


The pirate ship at Raymond James Stadium

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 replica cannons each time 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 on board 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.[12]

During Super Bowl XXXV on CBS, the pregame, halftime, and postgame desk reporting took place from aboard the pirate ship. NBC's Super Bowl XLIII coverage also emanated from the ship.

The two "Buc Vision" 2,200-square-foot (200 m2) Daktronics video displays were among the largest in the league when they were built and in 2016 they were replaced with a 9,600-square foot, high-definition video board in both end zones. '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 stadium then-record 71,921.

In 2003, the corner billboards in the stadium were replaced with rotating trilon billboards and these were replaced in 2016 with new high visibility displays.

Raymond James Stadium boasts the second-best turf in the NFL, according to a 2009 biannual players' survey.[13]

In early 2016, the stadium was given an extensive facelift. The most notable improvement was the replacement of the 2,200-square-foot (200 m2) video displays with state of the art, high visibility 9,600-square-foot (890 m2) video displays in both the north and south end zones along with the addition of a new 2,300-square-foot (210 m2) video tower in each corner. All together, the video displays cover more than 28,000-square-foot (2,600 m2), making Raymond James Stadium the third-largest video displays in the NFL. The original sound system and the stadium's luxury boxes were also upgraded.[14] A second round of improvements are planned for after the 2016 season is complete.


The stadium is referred to as "Ray Jay" or "The New Sombrero", a spinoff from "The Big Sombrero", the nickname of old Tampa Stadium. Somewhat derisively, it is also sometimes referred to as "the CITS", a name coined by long-time local sportscaster Chris Thomas which stands for "Community Investment Tax Stadium".[15] On occasion during radio broadcasts of games, Buccaneers' radio play-by-play man Gene Deckerhoff refers to the stadium as "Jesse James Stadium".


Buccaneer game action at Raymond James Stadium
Panoramic view from The Pirate Ship during the 2009 off-season
Panoramic view from The Pirate Ship during the 2009 off-season

Notable football games

Super Bowl

Season Game Date Winning team Score Losing team Score Attendance
2000 Super Bowl XXXV January 28, 2001 Baltimore Ravens 34 New York Giants 7 71,921
2008 Super Bowl XLIII February 1, 2009 Pittsburgh Steelers 27 Arizona Cardinals 23 70,774

NFL Playoffs

Season Game Date Visiting team Score Home team Score Attendance
1999 NFC Divisional January 15, 2000 Washington Redskins 13 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14 65,835
2002 NFC Divisional January 12, 2003 San Francisco 49ers 6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31 65,599
2005 NFC Wild Card January 7, 2006 Washington Redskins 17 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10 65,514
2007 NFC Wild Card January 6, 2008 New York Giants 24 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14 65,621

College Football Games


  1. "Patriots Sign Byars". The Ledger. October 16, 1996. Retrieved October 22, 2011.
  2. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  3. Sports Facilities - FSC-Inc.
  4. Ballparks.com Raymond James Stadium
  5. "U2 Fans Line Up Before Dawn at Ray Jay Stadium". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved November 7, 2010.
  6. Stadium FAQ
  7. 1 2 Testerman, Jeff (January 25, 2001). "Super Bowl 2001: We Paid for It; It Paid Off". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  8. "Bucs' New Stadium Gets A Name, New name is 'The Raymond James Stadium'". CBS News. December 13, 1999. Retrieved February 14, 2009.
  9. "Raymond James Stadium Naming Rights Through 2028". buccaneers.com. August 28, 2016.
  10. Daly, Sean (October 10, 2009). "U2 Delivers a Transcendent Performance in Tampa". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  11. Godfrey, John (June 9, 2012). "A World Cup Qualifying Victory Lacks Quality for the U.S". The New York Times.
  12. "Raymond James Stadium | Stadium Facts". Raymondjames.com. Retrieved February 14, 2009.
  13. "Top Turf in the NFL? Cards Best, Steelers Worst". ESPN.com. January 29, 2009. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
  14. "Raymond James Stadium gets $140M Makeover". ESPN.com. August 28, 2016.
  15. Deggans, Eric (February 20, 2004). "Chris Thomas Touched Us All". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  16. "Bucs Stay in Tampa With a Big Price Tag". Milwaukee Journal. January 17, 1995. Retrieved February 14, 2009.
  17. Williams, Chareen (December 7, 1995). "Tampa Still Hopeful Bucs Will Stay Put". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  18. Harry, Chris (July 24, 2005). "Fantastic Voyage". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  19. Henderson, Joe (September 28, 1995). "Chipping In: Malcolm Glazer Says He'll Pay "About Half" the Cost of a New Stadium As a Seat-Deposit Plan Is Unveiled". The Tampa Tribune. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  20. Washington, Wayne (September 18, 1998). "Stadium Rose Despite Challenges". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  21. "In Pictures: The Most Valuable NFL Teams". Forbes.com. September 12, 2007. Archived from the original on October 11, 2008. Retrieved February 14, 2009.
  22. Testerman, Jeff (January 24, 2003). "Stadium Tax Helped Pay for Bucs' Success". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  23. Canning, Michael (September 29, 2001). "Former Mayor's Opinion of Stadium Hasn't Changed". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  24. Varian, Bill (April 18, 2003). "Tampabay: Tax Bill Swells as Bucs Stall". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved February 14, 2009.
  25. Varian, Bill (March 6, 2003). "Hillsborough: Hillsborough Votes Yes on Plan to Own Stadium". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved February 14, 2009.
  26. Varian, Bill (December 18, 2003). "Hillsborough: County Act Ends Tax on Stadium". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved February 14, 2009.
  27. Contorno, Steve (1 October 2015). "How the Raymond James Stadium negotiations between the Buccaneers and the Tampa Sports Authority broke down". Tampa Tribune / tbo.com. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  28. Pransky, Noah (3 December 2015). "Bucs strike deal with county on stadium renovations". USA Today / WTSP. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  29. "College Football Playoff". www.collegefootballplayoff.com. Retrieved 2016-01-01.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Raymond James Stadium.
Events and tenants
Preceded by
Tampa Stadium/Houlihan's Stadium
Home of the
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

1998 – present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
University of Phoenix Stadium
Home of the
College Football Playoff National Championship

Succeeded by
Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Preceded by
Jacksonville Municipal Stadium
Host of the
ACC Championship Game

Succeeded by
Bank of America Stadium
Preceded by
Tampa Stadium/Houlihan's Stadium
Home of the
Tampa Bay Mutiny

1999 – 2001
Succeeded by
last stadium
Preceded by
Georgia Dome
University of Phoenix Stadium
Host of the Super Bowl
XXXV 2001
XLIII 2009
Succeeded by
Louisiana Superdome
Sun Life Stadium
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