A new era in Tampa Bay athletics opened on September 20, 1998, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Chicago Bears in brand new Raymond James Stadium. After three years of research, development, and construction, the majestic 168.5 million dollar complex was completed not far from where The Bucs old stadium once stood. Raymond James Stadium, referred to as "The Crown Jewel of The NFL", was designed by HOK Sports Facilities Group and constructed under the joint management of Huber, Hunt and Nichols and Metric Constructors. The Buccaneers share usage of the stadium with The Tampa Bay Mutiny of Major League Soccer and The University of South Florida Football Team. The financing for the stadium was established through a half-cent sales tax for community investment purposes that was apporved by voters on September 3, 1996.

For the second consecutive year, The Bucs have sold out Raymond James seating to season ticket holders. My family is fortunate enough a couple tickets in this majestic stadium. The waiting list for Raymond James Stadium is currently over 25,000 seats, which even though is a ridiculous number, it continues to grow on a regular basis.

Aerial of Raymond James Stadium Overall, Raymond James Stadium holds over 65,000 fans. 50,000 of the seats are general seating. Some of the Stadiums seating features include 650 wheelchair accesible seats, over 12,000 club seats, a total of 195 luxurious suites, and the best feature of all, each seat has its own cupholder!

In the north end zone stands the 3 million dollar Buccaneer Cove. Buccaneers Cove, which features a two story fishing village that holds a wide variety of concessions, encompasses 20,000 sqaure feet and runs the entire length of the end zone. The main attraction of The Cove is the 103-foot-long pirate ship, which rumor has it mysteriously sailed into Tampa Bay and docked into the port of Buccaneer Cove. Eights cannons fire and smoke is breathed from the mouth of the huge skull at the front of the ship. Opponents who are not worthy of playing against the Bucs are forced to "walk the plank" into the shark infested waters of Tampa Bay.

Pirate Ship in Buccaneer Cove Pirate Ship with Skull on Bow