Tampa Stadium

Tampa Stadium (nicknamed The Big Sombrero and briefly known as Houlihan's Stadium) was a large open-air stadium (maximum capacity about 74,000) located in Tampa, Florida. It opened in 1967, was significantly expanded in 1974–75, and was demolished in 1999. The facility is most closely associated with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League, who played there from their establishment in 1976 until 1997. It also hosted two Super Bowls, in 1984 and 1991, as well as the 1984 USFL Championship Game.

Besides the Bucs, Tampa Stadium was home to the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the original North American Soccer League, the Tampa Bay Bandits of the United States Football League, the Tampa Bay Mutiny of Major League Soccer, and the college football programs of the University of Tampa and the University of South Florida. It also hosted many large concerts, and for a time, it held the record for the largest audience to ever see a single artist when a crowd of almost 57,000 witnessed a Led Zeppelin show in the facility in 1973.

To meet the revenue demands of the Buccaneers' new owners, Raymond James Stadium was built at public expense in Tampa Stadium's parking lot in 1998. The older stadium was demolished in early 1999.

Tampa Stadium
"The Big Sombrero"
Tampa Stadium1
Tampa (Houlihan's) Stadium in early 1999
Full nameTampa Stadium
Former namesTampa Stadium (November 4, 1967 – December 28, 1995)
Houlihan's Stadium (January 16, 1996 – April 11, 1999)
Address4201 North Dale Mabry Highway
LocationTampa, Florida
Coordinates27°58′44″N 82°30′13″W / 27.97889°N 82.50361°WCoordinates: 27°58′44″N 82°30′13″W / 27.97889°N 82.50361°W
OwnerTampa Sports Authority
OperatorTampa Sports Authority
Capacity46,481 (original)
74,301 (final)
SurfaceBermuda grass
Broke groundOctober 9, 1966
OpenedNovember 4, 1967
Renovated1983, 1990
ExpandedDecember 4, 1974 – June 5, 1975
ClosedSeptember 13, 1998
DemolishedApril 11, 1999
Construction costUS$4.4 million
($33.1 million in 2018 dollars[1])
US$13 million (renovations)
($32.7 million in 2018 dollars[1])
ArchitectWatson & Company Architects, Engineers & Planners
General contractorJones-Mahoney Construction Co.[2]
Tampa Spartans (NCAA) (1967–1974)
Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL / independent / ASL / APSL) (1975–1986, 1988–1990, 1993)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL) (1976–1997)
Tampa Bay Bandits (USFL) (1983–1985)
Outback Bowl (NCAA) (1986–1998)
Tampa Bay Mutiny (MLS) (1996–1998)
USF Bulls (NCAA) (1997)

Origin and design

Pre-history and construction

The land on which Tampa Stadium was situated had been the perimeter of Drew Field, a World War II-era airfield which was the precursor to Tampa International Airport. In 1949, the city of Tampa bought a 720-acre grassy parcel between the airport and West Tampa from the federal government with the idea of eventually building a community sports complex.[3][4] Al Lopez Field was the first phase of the project, opening in 1955.

By the early 1960s, Tampa's civic leaders were interested in attracting a National Football League team to the area. Several well-attended NFL exhibition games were held at Phillips Field near downtown, but the venue was too small to support a professional football franchise. So with the encouragement of NFL officials, the city decided to build a larger facility which could be used by the University of Tampa's football team in the short term and could be expanded for use by a theoretical pro team in the future.[5]

Construction of Tampa Stadium began in the fall of 1966[6] directly adjacent to Al Lopez Field, which was by then the home of the Tampa Tarpons of the Florida State League and the spring training home of the Cincinnati Reds. Even though it contained separate football and baseball venues plus the Reds' training grounds, the lot purchased in 1949 was still large enough to allow for ample parking in the open land surrounding both facilities.

Original design

When it opened in 1967, Tampa Stadium consisted of a matching pair of large arch-shaped concrete grandstands with open endzones. The seating consisted of long, backless aluminum benches that were accessed via short tunnels (vomitoriums) which connected the seating area to wide, open concourses at the rear of the grandstands. The benches were arranged in two large tiers divided by a horizontal walkway about halfway up the grandstands. The slope of the grandstands was relatively steep, giving every seat a direct and unobstructed view of the field. The official capacity was 46,481, though temporary bleachers could be placed in one or both endzones if needed.[7]

Playing surface

Over the lifetime of Tampa Stadium, the natural grass turf consisted of several varieties of Bermuda grass, most notably Tifway 419. The playing surface was consistently one of the best in the NFL, and was regularly named a players' favorite in surveys conducted by the National Football League Players Association.[8][9]


Tampa Stadium was built almost exclusively of concrete. Throughout its existence, exterior walls were painted light tan or white or left as bare concrete, as were the flooring surfaces. Seating consisted of long aluminum benches, and there was no roof or overhang of any kind over the field or seating areas.

While the stadium's minimalist design allowed for very good sight lines, it also exposed both spectators and players to the full brunt of Tampa's subtropical climate. This was especially true after the stadium was fully enclosed for the Bucs' 1976 inaugural season, cutting off breezes which had flowed through the open endzones.[10] While fans could retreat under the grandstands to the shade of the wide concourses where concessions and restrooms were located, players and personnel on the field had no such recourse. Cooling equipment was usually placed near the sideline benches. The Buccaneers were also allowed to wear their white jerseys at home, forcing their opponents to suffer in their darker (and hotter) jerseys. During the summer and early autumn, events in the stadium were often scheduled in the evening hours to avoid the often oppressive afternoon heat and humidity. In another nod to local weather, the natural grass playing surface was highly crowned to provide rapid drainage during Tampa's intense thunderstorms, with the sidelines almost 18 inches lower than the center of the field.

Expansions and renovations

Tampa Stadium Capacity
Years Official capacity
1967–1975 46,481[7]
1976–1978 71,951[7]
1979–1981 72,126[11]
1982–1984 72,812[12]
1985–1988 74,315[13]
1989–1992 74,296[14]
1993–1998 74,301[15]

Tampa Stadium underwent an extensive expansion project in 1974–1975 after the city was awarded an NFL expansion team. Over 27,000 seats were added by completely enclosing the open end zones, making the venue one of the largest in the NFL with a capacity of 71,908.[16] The resulting arena was not in the shape of a simple bowl. It was highest at the center of the two sideline grandstands and gently sloped downward to a rounded corner where it met the new sections, which were about half as tall. Much later, the stadium was dubbed "The Big Sombrero" by ESPN's Chris Berman for the unique undulating hat / wave shape created along the top of the stadium by the 1975 additions.

The last major renovation took place in the early 1980s when, in preparation for its first Super Bowl in January 1984, the press box atop the west grandstand was updated and a large suite of luxury boxes was added atop the east grandstand. This configuration gave the facility its maximum seating capacity of 74,301.

For the 1990 season, large flagpoles were mounted on the upper rim of the stadium as part of a stadium update that included the addition of a JumboTron screen in the south end zone and smaller scoreboards above the field-level tunnels in two corners of the stadium. The poles were used to fly large flags for each of the NFL's teams until 1997, when the Buccaneers adopted a uniform redesign featuring a red flag on their helmets. Large versions of the flag were hoisted on the stadium's flagpoles when the Buccaneers penetrated their opponents' 20-yard line. The franchise continued this practice when it moved to Raymond James Stadium next door a year later.

Sporting history

First tenants

University of Tampa Spartans

Tampa Stadium was completed just in time to host its first sporting event – a football game between the University of Tampa Spartans and the #3 ranked University of Tennessee Volunteers on November 4, 1967.[17] While the Spartans lost that game 38-0, they would enjoy later success in their new home, moving up to Division I football in 1971, defeating several established programs, and sending several players to the NFL, including Freddie Solomon and John Matuszak.[18] However, university officials were unsure of continued community support after Tampa was awarded an NFL expansion franchise. "Tampa U" president B. D. Owens ended the football program after the 1974 season, saying that the school would face bankruptcy if it had to subsidize the sport.[19]

Tampa Bay Rowdies

The Tampa Bay Rowdies were the stadium's first professional tenant, starting play in 1975 and winning their only (outdoor) championship in their inaugural season. (The team also won several indoor soccer championships playing at the Bayfront Center across Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg.)

The Rowdies played their home games in Tampa Stadium every summer until the original North American Soccer League disbanded in 1984. Subsequently, the Rowdies continued on, first as an independent team, then in other leagues (ASL, APSL) and used the stadium every year through 1990. In 1991 and 1992 they moved across town to the smaller USF Soccer Stadium, before returning to Tampa Stadium in 1993 for their final season of play in the APSL.[20][21][22]

NFL expansion

Exhibition games

Looking to showcase the city's new facility for the NFL, community leaders arranged for several exhibition games in Tampa Stadium in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The first such game featured the Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins in August 1968 and drew a near-sellout crowd.[23] Eleven more games were held in the following seasons with similarly enthusiastic crowds, including three featuring the Baltimore Colts in 1972, when the team trained in Tampa during the NFL preseason.[24]

These preseason games gave NFL owners and officials ample opportunity to assess the Tampa Bay area and the stadium, and on April 24, 1974, Tampa was awarded an NFL expansion team to begin play in the 1976 season.[25]

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers' first regular season home game was held on September 19, 1976, when the Bucs lost to the San Diego Chargers 23-0. That would become a trend, as the team began their existence with an NFL-record 26-game losing streak. They would not win a game on their home field until defeating the St. Louis Cardinals on the last game of the following season, December 18, 1977. Jubilant fans swarmed the Tampa Stadium turf and tore down the goal posts.[26]

The Buccaneers had improved enough by the 1979 season to host the NFC Championship Game, which they lost 9-0 to the Los Angeles Rams. The Bucs played 18 additional seasons in the facility but struggled through most of them. They would only host one more playoff game on their original home turf: an NFC Wild Card Game vs. the Detroit Lions on December 28, 1997, which they won 20-10. This would be the last game the team ever played in Tampa Stadium, as they moved next door to Raymond James Stadium in 1998.

Krewe of Honor

In 1991, the organization initiated the "Krewe of Honor", which featured a mural of the first class of three members.[27] Quarterback Doug Williams was inducted September 6, 1992 and owner Hugh Culverhouse on September 5, 1993. No additional members were added before Tampa Stadium was closed and demolished.

Tampa Stadium Krewe of Honor
Year No. Name Position Tenure
1991 63 Lee Roy Selmon DE 1976–1984
John McKay Head Coach 1976–1984
42 Ricky Bell RB 1977–1981
1992 12 Doug Williams QB 1978–1982
1993 Hugh Culverhouse Owner 1976–1994

Malcolm Glazer also acquired naming rights to Tampa Stadium when he purchased the Buccaneers in 1995. In October of that year, he had the Houlihan's restaurant chain, another business in his portfolio, pay the Bucs $10 million for those rights. This resulted in the official name of the facility being changed to "Houlihan's Stadium" in 1996 and in Glazer being sued by Houlihan's stockholders, who were not happy about purchasing stadium naming rights in an area in which the chain had no restaurants.[28][29]

Other tenants and events

Tampa Stadium was the home field for several additional teams and hosted a wide variety of events during its lifetime.

Home teams

Tampa Stadium last event
Promotional poster for the final event at Tampa Stadium – a soccer match between the MLS Tampa Bay Mutiny and the MetroStars.
  • From 1983 to 1985, the Tampa Bay Bandits, one of the twelve original USFL franchises, were the stadium's third professional tenant. The Bandits enjoyed strong ticket sales and fan support and were one of only two USFL teams (the Birmingham Stallions being the other) to stay in their original city and stadium and have the same head coach (former Florida Gators and Bucs quarterback Steve Spurrier) for the league's three seasons. However. the Bandits folded along with the USFL after the 1985 season.
  • The University of South Florida Bulls football team played its initial season at the stadium in 1997, becoming the stadium's second and final collegiate tenant. The Bulls would play the final football game at the stadium on September 12, 1998, defeating Valparaiso 51-0 before moving to Raymond James Stadium for their next home game on October 3, 1998.
  • Major League Soccer placed one of its original teams in Tampa in 1996. The Tampa Bay Mutiny were the stadium's fourth and final professional tenant. The Mutiny used the stadium as their home field for their first three seasons, and moved to Raymond James Stadium in 1999. They hosted the last sporting event at the stadium on September 13, 1998, when they defeated the New York MetroStars 2-1 in front of 27,957 people.[30]

Sporting events


The stadium hosted concerts by many famous artists, including Deep Purple, The Who, Jethro Tull, Paul McCartney, David Bowie, U2, The Rolling Stones, Jimmy Buffett, The Eagles, Whitney Houston, Jonathan Butler, Genesis, Kenny G, George Michael, Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead, and several big acts at the same time during the 1988 Monsters of Rock Tour, among others.

Two particularly memorable concerts were held there by the English rock band Led Zeppelin. On May 5, 1973, the band attracted 56,800 people, which at the time represented the largest audience for a single artist performance in history, breaking the record set by The Beatles at Shea Stadium in 1965.[36] On June 3, 1977, the band returned to the venue, but the concert was cut short due to a large thunderstorm. An audience riot followed, with police ultimately using tear gas to disperse the crowd.[37] Local authorities banned concerts in Tampa Stadium for over a year and changed security rules before allowing shows to resume.[38]

Special events

In March 1979, evangelist Billy Graham held a "Florida West Coast Crusade" at Tampa Stadium and drew a combined crowd of about 175,000 over five consecutive days.[39]

Tampa Stadium demolition
Final stages of Tampa Stadium demolition, April 11, 1999. Note Raymond James Stadium at background left.


Immediately upon buying the Buccaneers in 1995, new owner Malcolm Glazer declared that Tampa Stadium was inadequate and threatened to move the franchise to another city unless a new stadium was built at taxpayers' expense.[40][41] To accommodate these demands, Hillsborough County raised local sales taxes and built Raymond James Stadium just south of Tampa Stadium in 1997–98.[42]

Demolition of Tampa Stadium proceeded soon after the Tampa Bay Mutiny's final home game on September 13, 1998. Wrecking balls and long reach excavators were used for much of the process, and the last portion of the stadium (the east side luxury boxes built for the stadium's first Super Bowl), was imploded on April 11, 1999. Tampa Stadium's former site is now a parking and staging area for Raymond James Stadium, and its footprint can still be seen in a grassy area inside a roughly circular road that once ringed its perimeter.


  1. ^ a b Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  2. ^ "Local $ Needed For Stadium". St. Petersburg Times. July 28, 1966. Retrieved March 31, 2012.
  3. ^ Tampa in the 1940s - tampapix.com
  4. ^ "Big Deeds Need Big Plans" St. Pete Times, June 9, 1949
  5. ^ "Tampa football all began at Phillips Field" Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine The Tampa Tribune
  6. ^ Tampa Sports Authority
  7. ^ a b c "Redskins Regain Beban For Exhibition at Tampa". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. August 4, 1968.
  8. ^ "Good Footing". buccaneers.com. 4 February 2011. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  9. ^ "Field in Tampa Stadium Draw Raves from Expert". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. 21 January 1984. Retrieved 10 Aug 2016 – via AP.
  10. ^ "Florida Heat is Tampa Bay's Real Home Field Advantage" St. Pete Times, Aug. 25, 1976
  11. ^ "Tampa Stadium Sold Out". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. August 10, 1979.
  12. ^ "Detroit Has a Gay Day at Sacking Tampa Bay". The Palm Beach Post. September 5, 1983.
  13. ^ David Steele (August 15, 1986). "Bucs' Season-Ticket Sales Dip Sharply". The Evening Independent.
  14. ^ "Buccaneers". Gainesville Sun. September 26, 1989.
  15. ^ "Ticket Sales Up With Threat of Bucs Move". The Tuscaloosa News. December 21, 1994.
  16. ^ Ron Martz (August 19, 1978). "Bucs Return to Scene of First Victory". St. Petersburg Times.
  17. ^ "D-Day Arrives for Tampa" St. Pete Times, Nov. 4, 1967
  18. ^ "University of Tampa Spartans used to be the toast of the town". Orlando Sentinel. 2009-01-25. Retrieved 2010-01-18.
  19. ^ UT Journal – Winter 2007 – ut.edu
  20. ^ Rusnak, Jeff (1991-06-23). "Strikers Look Bad, But Still Sneak By Rowdies 1-0". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 2014-04-15.
  21. ^ http://mytampabayrowdies.blogspot.com/2010/04/rowdies-memorabilia-1992-rowdies-season.html
  22. ^ Brousseau, Dave (1993-06-13). "Eichmann Nets 2 In Striker Victory First Half At Tampa Gets Rowdy". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 2014-04-15.
  23. ^ "Bucpower.Com". Bucpower.Com. Retrieved 2010-01-18.
  24. ^ Wallace, William N. (29 February 1972). "Colts plan workout in Tampa, add fuel to Baltimore story". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  25. ^ "Tampa Bay Proves Its Winning Way". .tbo.com. 2009-01-31. Retrieved 2010-01-18.
  26. ^ Mizell, Hubert. "At last! A Tampa Stadium victory celebration". St. Petersburg Times. 19 Dec 1977
  27. ^ Werder, Ed (1991-12-05). "Tampa Initiates Krewe Of Honor". Tampa Bay. Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
  28. ^ "Stockholder sue Glazer" St. Pete Times, Dec. 2, 1995
  29. ^ "Is Zapata the Glazers' Toy?" Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Oct. 7, 1996
  30. ^ "Major League Soccer: History: Games". Web.mlsnet.com. Archived from the original on January 19, 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-18.
  31. ^ "52,000 Seen for '68 Debut in Stadium" St. Pete Times, September 21, 1968
  32. ^ 03_2010_Records&History_pp135-200.indd
  33. ^ Tampa Sports History: Can-Am Bowl I, 1/8/78
  34. ^ Geist, Bill (1994-10-23). "Really Big Trucks". NY Times. Retrieved 2010-01-18.
  35. ^ http://www.stadiumjumping.com/t.e.html#!invitational/c11xy
  36. ^ Led Zeppelin - Official Website
  37. ^ "Official Website". Led Zeppelin. 1977-06-03. Retrieved 2010-01-18.
  38. ^ "Tampa Stadium to allow concerts again" - The Evening Independent, June 18, 1979
  39. ^ "Attention of thousands focuses on Graham crusade" The St. Pete Times, March 24, 1979
  40. ^ Stadium rose despite challenges
  41. ^ Tampa Still Hopeful Bucs Will Stay Put Orlando Sentinel
  42. ^ Tampa Sports Authority – Raymond James Stadium

External links

Preceded by
first stadium
Home of the
University of Tampa Spartans

1967 – 1974
Succeeded by
final stadium
Preceded by
first stadium
Home of the
Tampa Bay Rowdies

1975 – 1990
Succeeded by
USF Soccer Stadium
Preceded by
USF Soccer Stadium
Home of the
Tampa Bay Rowdies

Succeeded by
final stadium
Preceded by
first stadium
Home of the
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

1976 – 1997
Succeeded by
Raymond James Stadium
Preceded by
The Kingdome
Host of the NFL Pro Bowl
Succeeded by
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Preceded by
first stadium
Home of the
Florida Classic

1978 – 1996
Succeeded by
Citrus Bowl
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Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Host of NFC Championship Game
Succeeded by
Veterans Stadium
Preceded by
first stadium
Home of the
Tampa Bay Bandits

1983 – 1985
Succeeded by
final stadium
Preceded by
Rose Bowl
Louisiana Superdome
Host of the Super Bowl
XVIII 1984
XXV 1991
Succeeded by
Stanford Stadium
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Mile High Stadium
Host of the
USFL Championship Game

Succeeded by
Giants Stadium
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Legion Field
Host of the
Hall of Fame/Outback Bowl

1986 – 1998
Succeeded by
Raymond James Stadium
Preceded by
first stadium
Home of the
Tampa Bay Mutiny

1996 – 1999
Succeeded by
Raymond James Stadium
Preceded by
first stadium
Home of the
South Florida Bulls

1997 – 1998
Succeeded by
Raymond James Stadium
Preceded by
California Memorial Stadium
Host of the College Cup
Succeeded by
Stanford Stadium
1972 Tampa Spartans football team

The 1972 Tampa Spartans football team represented the University of Tampa in the 1972 NCAA University Division football season. It was the Spartans' 36th season and they competed as an NCAA University Division independent. The team was led by head coach Earle Bruce, in his first year, and played their home games at Tampa Stadium in Tampa, Florida. They finished with a record of ten wins and two losses (10–2) and with a victory in the Tangerine Bowl over Kent State. Bruce was hired on February 2, 1972, to serve as the replacement for Bill Fulcher who resigned to become the head coach at Georgia Tech.

1974 Tampa Spartans football team

The 1974 Tampa Spartans football team represented the University of Tampa in the 1974 NCAA Division I football season. It was the Spartans' 38th season and they competed as an NCAA Division I independent. The team was led by head coach Dennis Fryzel, in his second year, and played their home games at Tampa Stadium in Tampa, Florida. They finished with a record of six wins and five losses (6–5). On February 27, 1975, the University of Tampa Board of Trustees voted to disband the Spartans football program effective for the 1975 season. Financial hardship was cited as the primary reason for its being disbanded.

1978 NCAA Division I Soccer Tournament

The 1978 NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Tournament was the 20th organized men's college soccer tournament by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, to determine the top college soccer team in the United States. The San Francisco Dons won their fourth national title, although it was later revoked by the NCAA, by defeating the Indiana Hoosiers in the championship game, 2–0. The final match was played on December 10, 1978, in Tampa, Florida, at Tampa Stadium for the first time.

1978 Pro Bowl

The 1978 Pro Bowl was the NFL's 28th annual all-star game which featured the outstanding performers from the 1977 season. The game was played on Monday, January 23, 1978, at Tampa Stadium in Tampa, Florida before a crowd of 50,716. The final score was NFC 14, AFC 13.Ted Marchibroda of the Baltimore Colts lead the AFC team against an NFC team coached by Los Angeles Rams head coach Chuck Knox. The referee was Fred Wyant.Walter Payton of the Chicago Bears was named the game's Most Valuable Player. Players on the winning NFC team received $5,000 apiece while the AFC participants each took home $2,500.

1979 NCAA Division I Soccer Tournament

The 1979 NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Tournament was the 21st organized men's college soccer tournament by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, to determine the top college soccer team in the United States. The SIU Edwardsville Cougars won their first national title by defeating the Clemson Tigers in the championship game, 3–2. The final match was played on December 9, 1979, in Tampa, Florida, at Tampa Stadium for the second straight year.

1979 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season

The 1979 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season was the franchise's 4th season in the National Football League the 4th playing their home games at Tampa Stadium and the 4th under head coach John McKay. After having won just seven games in the previous three seasons combined, the 1979 Buccaneers won ten games making this their first winning season. They finished as NFC Central division champions, and won the first playoff game in franchise history.

The Buccaneers added offensive threats to complement their solid defense; a healthy Doug Williams played his first full season and Ricky Bell became the team's first 1,000-yard back, rushing for a career-high 1,263 yards.The 1979 team not only posted their first winning record, but earned a playoff spot by winning the NFC Central division title. The playoff spot was secured in the final week in a rain-sodden game against the Kansas City Chiefs, with the only score being a 19-yard field goal by Neil O'Donoghue. They then recorded their first-ever playoff win by defeating the Philadelphia Eagles behind Bell's 142 yards rushing. Tampa Bay hosted the 1979 NFC Championship Game the following week, but lost 9–0 to the Los Angeles Rams.

1980 NCAA Division I Soccer Tournament

The 1980 NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Tournament was the 22nd organized men's college soccer tournament by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, to determine the top college soccer team in the United States. The San Francisco Dons won their fourth national title (their 1978 title and tournament wins were vacated by the NCAA) by defeating the Indiana Hoosiers in the championship game, 4–3, after one overtime period. Oddly, this was re-match of the 1978 tournament final won by San Francisco but later vacated by the NCAA. The final match was played on December 14, 1980, in Tampa, Florida, at Tampa Stadium for the third straight year.

1988 Hall of Fame Bowl

The 1988 Hall of Fame Bowl, part of the 1987 bowl game season, took place on January 2, 1988, at Tampa Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The competing teams were the Alabama Crimson Tide, representing the Southeastern Conference (SEC), and the Michigan Wolverines of the Big Ten Conference (Big 10). In what was the first ever meeting between the schools, Michigan was victorious by a final score of 28–24.

1989 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season

The 1989 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season was the franchise's 14th season in the National Football League the 14th playing their home games at Tampa Stadium and the third under head coach Ray Perkins. The team matched on a 5–11 season in 1988, in which finished winning two of their last three games including an upset of the 1988 AFC East Champion Buffalo Bills (a win that was not only Tampa Bay's high point of the season, but turned out to be hugely impactful on the AFC playoff picture, as Buffalo's loss combined with an overtime win by the Cincinnati Bengals over Washington in the season finale meant that the Bengals clinched the home-field advantage that would have otherwise gone to the Bills; Cincinnati ended up winning a close AFC title game at home against Buffalo and got to Super Bowl XXIII. The season started with a road win against the improved Green Bay Packers, and game two brought the Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers and Joe Montana to Tampa Stadium. With Joe trying to direct a 4th quarter comeback, cornerback Ricky Reynolds dropped what would have been a game ending interception on second down in the end zone. On third down, Montana rolled out and ran untouched into the endzone for a winning TD that left a rare sellout crowd stunned and silent in defeat. The Bucs extended their record to 3–2 by beating the hated Chicago Bears finally in Tampa Stadium, holding off the Bears to a 42–35 victory. It was an impressive win, but then the Bucs lost to the Detroit Lions in the last minute and entered into an overall five-game losing-streak tailspin. Tampa Bay would sweep Chicago to end the streak (an achievement which was diluted by the Bears having their worst season in several years) but ended with a disappointing 5–11 record. James Wilder’s final season was highlighted by a 100-yard receiving game in week 9. Many fans felt the Bucs were far better than the final record suggested, and offseason acquisitions would help the Bucs win the next year.

1990 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season

The 1990 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season was the franchise's 15th season in the National Football League.

Head coach Ray Perkins and Bucs players were getting criticized by fans with his 3-a-day training camp practices. Leaving many players complaining of fatigue late in the year, and with injuries that never really healed themselves throughout the end of the season.

Still, after starting 4–2 via four wins against divisional opponents, the Buccaneers dropped two out of three games to a weak Dallas Cowboys team. Later in the year, quarterback Vinny Testaverde and receiver Willie Drewrey combined on an 89-yard touchdown pass in week 13 for the longest play in franchise history. Coach Perkins was fired after that game and the team fell short of a possible break even season with two losses to end the season.

Offensive coordinator Richard Williamson was made head coach for the 1991 season based on a 1–2 record. Tax records showed the Buccaneers were one of the most profitable teams during this time, even though owner Hugh Culverhouse announced the Bucs were losing money and needed to play games in Orlando, Florida to gain income.

1991 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season

The 1991 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season was the franchise's 16th season in the National Football League.

In Richard Williamson's first full season as coach the Buccaneers started by losing their first five games, on the way to another last place 3–13 season. Among the major disappointments was quarterback Vinny Testaverde, who was replaced by Chris Chandler at quarterback early in the season, who passed for 1,994 yards and eight touchdown passes to 15 interceptions. Following the season Coach Williamson would be fired and replaced by Sam Wyche.

Tax records would later show that the Buccaneers were one of the most profitable teams during this time, even though owner Hugh Culverhouse announced the Bucs were losing money and needed to play games in Orlando, Florida to get income. Such records revealed Culverhouse ran the Bucs as a profit first business, often releasing better players who would deserve big contracts.

1993 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season

The 1993 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season was the franchise's 18th season in the National Football League.

1993 was mostly seen as a rebuilding year for coach Sam Wyche who moved on without Vinny Testaverde and went with young quarterback Craig Erickson, another University of Miami alumnus who won a national championship as their quarterback. He had a solid 3054 passing yards. The Bucs lost five of their first six games on the way to a 5-11 season.

The 1993 Buccaneers have the distinction of being the only team in NFL history to have played eleven games against teams that would go on to make the playoffs; the Buccaneers were 3–8 in these games.

In his first season with the team, Hardy Nickerson set a Buccaneer record with 214 tackles.

1995 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season

The 1995 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season was the franchise's 20th season in the National Football League.

The season began with the team trying to improve on a 6–10 season in 1994, a season in which the team won 4 straight games at the end of the year, and four of their final five. It was Sam Wyche’s final season as the team's head coach.

This was the final year the Buccaneers team wore screen printed name and numbers on the jerseys

Prior to the season Malcolm Glazer took over ownership of the team, then the Bucs drafted defensive lineman Warren Sapp and linebacker Derrick Brooks, both of whom are recognized as two of the team's greatest ever players. The Buccaneers' first-ever draft pick, Lee Roy Selmon, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Buccaneers–Dolphins rivalry

The Buccaneers–Dolphins rivalry is between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins of the National Football League. It is an in-state, interconference matchup between the two oldest NFL teams in the state of Florida. It has been active in most years since the Buccaneers joined the league as an expansion team in 1976. The rivalry is mostly a mainstay of the preseason, as the teams have been in different conferences since 1977 and as such only play each other during the regular season once every four years.

The Dolphins are part of the AFC East. The Buccaneers are currently part of the NFC South. According to the current NFL scheduling format, the two teams play each other every four years during the regular season, rotating the host site each meeting. In addition, the two clubs play each other during the preseason nearly every year, with the site rotating on a mostly regular basis.

The two teams have never met in the playoffs. Currently, the only circumstance in which the two teams could meet during the postseason would be in the Super Bowl.

The eleven regular season meetings have been characterized in most cases as relatively low-scoring affairs, and oftentimes close. Nine of the eleven have been decided by ten or fewer points, while six have been decided by a field goal.

Though the in-state rivalry has no official nickname, it has sometimes been referred to as the "Sunshine Series."

Fort Lauderdale–Tampa Bay rivalry

The Fort Lauderdale–Tampa Bay rivalry, also known as the Florida Derby, refers to the suspended soccer rivalry that most recently involved the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and the Tampa Bay Rowdies, both of whom played in the North American Soccer League though the 2016 season. Over the years the rivalry has spanned more than one hundred matches across eight soccer leagues and several tournaments, and involved nine different teams from the two regions of Florida. At times it has involved players, coaches, management and fans. Even the press has fanned the rivalry's flames at times. From 2010 through 2014, the winner of the regular season series automatically won the Coastal Cup as well. The status of the rivalry beyond 2016 remains unclear because the Rowdies have since joined the United Soccer League, while the Strikers ongoing ownership and legal battles of 2016 and 2017 have left them defunct.

Plant Field

Plant Field was the first major athletic venue in Tampa, Florida. It was built in 1899 by Henry B. Plant on the grounds of his Tampa Bay Hotel to host various events and activities for guests, and it consisted of a large field ringed by an oval race track flanked by a large covered grandstand on the western straightaway. Over the ensuing decades, Plant Field drew Tampa residents and visitors to see horse racing, car racing, baseball games, entertainers, and politicians.The stadium also hosted the first professional football and first spring training games in Tampa and was the long-time home of the Florida State Fair.

Soon after Tampa Stadium opened across town in the late 1960s, Plant Field was acquired by the adjacent University of Tampa, which changed the name of the grandstand to Pepin-Rood Stadium. Today, the original grandstand is gone and many university buildings are located in the large footprint of Plant Field. However, a portion of the original playing field is still used for university athletic events and student recreation.

Tampa Bay Bandits

The Tampa Bay Bandits was a professional American football team in the United States Football League (USFL) which was based in Tampa, Florida. The Bandits were a charter member of the USFL and was the only franchise to have the same principal owner (John F. Bassett), head coach (Steve Spurrier), and home field (Tampa Stadium) during the league's three seasons of play. The Bandits were successful both on the field and at the ticket booth. Spurrier's "Bandit Ball" offense led them to winning records and two playoff appearances, and their exciting brand of play combined with innovative local marketing helped the Bandits lead the league in attendance. However, the franchise folded along with the rest of the USFL when the league suspended play after the 1985 season.

Prominent alumni from the Bandits include future NFL Pro Bowlers Nate Newton and Gary Anderson and coach Steve Spurrier, who spent 25 years coaching college football and was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame.

Tampa Bay Mutiny

The Tampa Bay Mutiny was a professional soccer team based in Tampa, Florida. They were a charter member of Major League Soccer (MLS) and played from 1996 to 2001. They played their home games at Tampa Stadium and then at Raymond James Stadium.

The Mutiny were established in 1994 and were owned and operated by MLS throughout their existence. They were successful in their first years of play, winning the first MLS Supporters' Shield behind MLS MVP Carlos Valderrama and high-scoring forward Roy Lassiter, whose 27 goals in 1996 remained the MLS single-season record until 2018. However, the team drew low revenues and attendance and could not find a local ownership group to take over operations from the league. In 2002, MLS folded the Mutiny as well as its other Florida-based team, the Miami Fusion.

Tampa Bay Rowdies (1975–93)

The Tampa Bay Rowdies were an American professional soccer team based in Tampa, Florida, that competed in the original North American Soccer League (NASL) from 1975 to 1984. They enjoyed broad popular support in the Tampa Bay area until the NASL folded in 1984, after which the team played in various minor indoor and outdoor leagues before finally folding on January 31, 1994. The Rowdies played nearly all of their outdoor home games at Tampa Stadium and nearly all of their indoor games at the Bayfront Center Arena in nearby St. Petersburg, Florida. Although San Diego played indoors until 1996, the Rowdies were the last surviving NASL franchise that played outdoor soccer on a regular basis.

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