Wednesday, December 2, 2015

What Exactly Was the Renovation Deal the Bucs & Hillsborough Agreed To?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have put the finishing touches on a deal with Hillsborough County that could bring up to $100 million of renovations to Raymond James Stadium. The project will include new HD video boards, sound and concession improvements, and an overhaul of luxury suites.

The Tampa Sports Authority (TSA), the county-funded agency in charge of the stadium, ultimately rejected the team's demand for a second regular-season game abroad, conceding a number of preseason games instead.

Currently, the Bucs can play one regular season home game each year away from Raymond James Stadium, but starting in 2018, they will be able to play one regular season home game as well as one preseason home game away from Tampa. They can also play both preseason home games in 2016 and 2017 elsewhere if they choose.

The TSA will also kick in $3 million more - $29 million in total - of public money to help the team with renovations. The plan, still subject to county and city approval, originally called for $26 million in coming from Hillsborough County taxpayers. The Bucs are committing to spend at least $58 million of their own money - and potentially upwards of $70 million.

Meanwhile, the team is also seeking state dollars - approximately $12 million over the next 12 years, through the end of their lease at Raymond James Stadium - to help pay part of their portion of the renovations, although it may be a difficult sell to the current legislature. The state already pays $2 million per year to subsidize the original construction bonds on the stadium.

The Bucs rejected efforts by the county to extend their lease in exchange for some of the county-paid renovations. Some speculated the team was trying to leverage more games in London toward the end of their contract.

ALSO READ: Why the Bucs - Just Like the Rays - May Soon Be Seeking a New Stadium

“This is a great day for our entire community as we work toward an agreement that ensures Raymond James Stadium will remain one of the top sports facilities in the country,” said Buccaneers Chief Operating Officer Brian Ford in a prepared statement. “The proposed agreement will provide the type of much-needed enhancements that will improve the in-game experience for our loyal Buccaneer fans and will play a key role in our ability to attract the types of large-scale events that we have grown accustomed to hosting over the years. These exciting projects have been made possible through the hard work and foresight of all parties, including public officials from the TSA, Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa.”

The first phase of renovations will take place between January 2016 and August 2016, including the installation of new HD video boards in each end zone, four HD tower video displays in each corner of the lower bowl, and HD ribbon boards in the center ring of the suite level. The proposed new end zone boards will measure 9,600 square feet each, while each tower display will measure 2,304 square feet for a total video display area of 28,416 square feet—the third-largest in the NFL.

The second phase of renovations, expected to take place between January 2017's college football championship game and the start of the Buccaneers' 2017 season, will include an extensive renovation of the east and west club lounges, expansions of the general concourses, and construction of a team store.


The Bucs didn't return requests for comment Wednesday and haven't said what additional "enhancements" they plan on making. But in its official press release, the team indicated it would boost the overall cost of renovations by another $10+ million.

The Bucs also haven't indicated if the renovations will affect seating capacity in the stadium, but a TSA spokesperson said it was unlikely to change much. It is unknown if ticket prices will climb in a similar fashion to how they have in other NFL stadiums post-renovation.

ALSO READ: Why pro teams need your money to remove seats

The Bucs made some concessions to the county as well, agreeing to a slight reduction in their take from non-football events. Currently, the team keeps the first $2 million each year in profits from non-football events at the county-owned stadium as well as 50% of all profits after the $2 million threshold is met. The team's take will now be reduced to 1/3 of all profits after the $2 million threshold is met.

“The proposed improvements would be a huge win for our community, as fans will be provided an enhanced event experience and Tampa will be uniquely positioned to host future world class events at Raymond James Stadium,” said Tampa Sports Authority President/CEO Eric Hart in a prepared statement. “I would like to thank the administrations of both Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa, along with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for their efforts in developing this innovative plan.”

The agreement will go to the TSA Board of Directors on December 15th for approval, followed by the Hillsborough County Commission the following day, December 16th, and the Tampa City Council on December 17th.

ALSO READ: Latest developments in Rays' stadium saga

“It is critically important to me that any renovation agreement save taxpayers money and dramatically improve the fan experience," said Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan, who also sits on the TSA board. "Not only will this agreement accomplish this but the state-of-the-art amenities will also allow our community to aggressively compete for future world class events.”

Future Super Bowls are a common lure for stadium subsidies, but Tampa may be waiting its turn to host a game for a while.

Tampa has lost out on recent Super Bowl bids to cities with newer stadiums, and it again joins New Orleans, Atlanta, and Miami as finalists for both the 2019 and 2020 Super Bowls. However, Atlanta's new stadium is considered the front-runner for 2019's game, and Miami's $400 million stadium renovations could help it lock up the 2020 game.

"Raymond James Stadium is a very integral part of (the bid)," said Rob Higgins, executive director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, the private non-profit corporation putting together Tampa's presentation to the NFL. "The fact that The Sports Authority and the Buccaneers are doing such a great job making sure that (the stadium) is the best that it can possibly be is phenomenal for our bid."

Higgins will make the city's pitch to NFL owners later this month, although the final votes on the 2019 and 2020 Super Bowls won't come until next spring. The 2020 bid process could also get disrupted by a possible Los Angeles bid if the city can convince one of three teams - the San Diego Chargers, the St. Louis Rams, or the Oakland Raiders - to relocate and build a new stadium.

Then again, it might not be a bad thing to miss out on another Super Bowl according to these folks...


  1. "The TSA will also kick in $3 million more - of public money to help the team", actually it's helping themselves, from tourist money, that tourist paid for stuff that draws tourist like stadiums that host big drawing events like Super Bowls...
    It's a win-win, they'll make back their money with-in the next few years, and increase the stadiums & teams value...

    1. Not sure slightly bigger scoreboards will make the county an additional $3 million....

      Also, that's $3M that could have been used on many other things. Just sayin'.

    2. If it helps continue to land big events in Tampa, it easily will. Also, there's a lot gov. spent money that could be used in other ways...

  2. Let's not discount the indirect benefits for Tampa, maybe interview surrounding hotel & restaurant owners, golf course, strip clubs, and attraction managers, etc., I think they would tell a more sunnier side of stadium saga's...

    1. People who tell anecdotes often have brighter visions of Super Bowls than people who analyze tax receipts and tourism numbers.

      For every "winner" around the stadium, there's typically a "loser" somewhere else. Giant events are great for local hotels, which can charge more for those February room-nights, but those profits generally leave the region.