Tampa Stadium

Tampa Stadium

Infobox Stadium
stadium_name = Tampa Stadium
nickname = "The Big Sombrero"

caption =
fullname = Tampa Stadium
location = Tampa, Florida
coordinates =
broke_ground = October 9, 1966
built =
opened = November 4, 1967
renovated = 1983
expanded = 1975
closed = September 13, 1998
demolished = Spring 1999
owner = Tampa Sports Authority
operator = Tampa Sports Authority
surface = Grass
construction_cost = $4.1 million USD
$13 million USD (renovations)
architect = Watson & Company Architects, Engineers & Planners
project_manager =
main_contractors =
former_names = Tampa Stadium (1967-1995)
Houlihan's Stadium (1996-1998)
tenants = Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL) (1976-1997)
Can-Am Bowl (NCAA) (1977-1979)
Outback Bowl (NCAA) (1986-1998)
Florida Classic (NCAA) (1978-1996)
University of Tampa (NCAA) (1967-1974)
Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL) (1975-1984)
Tampa Bay Bandits (USFL) (1983-1985)
Tampa Bay Mutiny (MLS) (1996-1998)
USF (NCAA) (1997)
seating_capacity = 74,301

Tampa Stadium (known as Houlihan's Stadium from 1996 to 1998, and nicknamed "The Big Sombrero") was a sports venue located at 4201 North Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa, Florida, USA. The stadium is most closely associated with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers National Football League franchise, which played all of their home games in the stadium from 1976 through 1997.


Early history

Construction on Tampa Stadium began in the fall of 1966, and the facility opened in 1967 [ [http://www.tampasportsauthority.com/tsa/timeline.htm Tampa Sports Authority ] ] . The stadium was built next to Al Lopez Field, the then-home of the Tampa Tarpons Florida State League baseball team, and the spring training site of the Cincinnati Reds National League baseball franchise. Ample parking was available in the grassy lots around the stadium, as well as nearby Horizon Park and Jesuit High School.

The stadium was designed for American football, and built with an initial seating capacity of 45,000. Two large concrete structures built along the sidelines provided the major facilities. Bench seating was arranged on a single tier, so that every seat had a direct and unobstructed view of the playing field.

When the sun came out, the stadium became a very warm venue for fans and players. Fans could retreat to the interior decks under the seats, where concessions and restrooms were located. Players and personnel on the field had no way to beat the heat, except for the tunnels to the locker rooms, and cooling equipment placed near the sideline benches. During the summer and early autumn, games often started during or after sunset to avoid the extreme afternoon heat and humidity. Games usually started at 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. during the rest of the year.

The stadium's natural grass playing surface was highly crowned to provide rapid drainage during Florida's intense thunderstorms. The sidelines were at least 18 inches lower than the center of the field.

The stadium's original tenant was the University of Tampa Spartans football team. The Spartans hosted the stadium's first sporting event on November 4, 1967 when they played the University of Tennessee. The Spartans used Tampa Stadium as their home field until the university disbanded the football program in 1974.

NFL expansion

The 1975 expansion project was spurred by the pending arrival of the Buccaneers. Over 27,000 end zone seats were added by completely enclosing the open end zones. The expanded stadium became one of the largest outdoor venues in the NFL.

The stadium was later dubbed "The Big Sombrero" by ESPN's Chris Berman for the Mexican hat-like shape that was created by the expansion project.

Skyboxes were added in the mid-1980s by expanding the stadium's existing press boxes. The stadium's maximum seating capacity was 74,301.

The Super Bowl was held there twice: Super Bowl XVIII in January 1984, and Super Bowl XXV in January 1991. The NFC Championship of the 1979 season and two other Buccaneers playoff games have been held there.

The original stadium hosted four NFL preseason games. On August 10, 1968, the Washington Redskins played the Atlanta Falcons in the stadium's first professional sporting event. The Baltimore Colts played three preseason games in the stadium in 1972. These preseason games gave NFL owners and officials ample opportunity to assess the Tampa Bay area and the stadium.

The Buccaneers' first regular season home game was held on September 19, 1976, when the Buccaneers lost to the San Diego Chargers 23-0.

The stadium's name was changed after the Malcolm Glazer family purchased the Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchise in 1995. The Glazers also purchased the stadium's naming rights from the Tampa Sports Authority. The stadium's second and final name advertised one of the Glazer family's business ventures, the Houlihan's restaurant chain.

For the 1990 season, large flagpoles were mounted on the upper rim of the stadium as part of a renovation 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.

The Buccaneers' final game at the stadium was an NFL wild card playoff game against the Detroit Lions on December 28, 1997, which the Buccaneers won 20-10. Just under nine months later, the Buccaneers moved into Raymond James Stadium.

Other tenants and events

The Tampa Bay Rowdies were the stadium's first professional tenant. The Rowdies won their only outdoor championship during the team's first season in 1975. The Rowdies used the stadium as their home field until the North American Soccer League disbanded in 1984.

The stadium was the venue of two memorable concerts by 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. 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 resulting in several arrests and injuries, with police ultimately using tear gas to break up the crowd.

Between 1977 and 1979, the Can-Am Bowl was played in the stadium. From 1986 to 1998, the Outback Bowl (formerly the "Hall of Fame Bowl") was held there for college football. In January 1999, this game was relocated to Raymond James Stadium.

On June 3, 1981, the NFL awarded Tampa Stadium its first Super Bowl, which would be held in January 1984. During the balloting, Tampa beat Dallas, Detroit, Miami, New Orleans and Pasadena.

Between 1983 and 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 the few USFL teams to stay in their original city and stadium for the league's three seasons.

On May 20, 1987, the NFL awarded Tampa Stadium its second Super Bowl, which would be held in January 1991. During the balloting, Tampa beat Anaheim, Los Angeles, Miami and San Diego.

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.

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 played 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.


Upon buying the Buccaneers in 1995, new owner Malcolm Glazer suggested that he might move the franchise to another city unless a new stadium was built at taxpayer's expense. [ [http://www.bucpower.com/1695mizell.html Bucpower.Com ] ] . To accommodate these demands, the community built Raymond James Stadium just south of Tampa Stadium in 1997-98 [ [http://www.tampasportsauthority.com/rjs/history.htm Tampa Sports Authority - Raymond James Stadium ] ] . In early 1999, the older stadium was demolished. The land was cleared and converted into a parking lot.

Tampa Stadium tenants & major events

succession box
title = Home of the
University of Tampa Spartans
years = 1967 – 1974
before = first stadium
after = final stadium
succession box
title = Home of the
Tampa Bay Rowdies
years = 1975 – 1993
before = first stadium
after = final stadium
succession box
title = Home of the
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
years = 1976 – 1997
before = first stadium
after = Raymond James Stadium
succession box
title = Home of the
Tampa Bay Bandits
years = 1983 – 1985
before = first stadium
after = final stadium
succession box
title = Home of the
Tampa Bay Mutiny
years = 1996 – 1999
before = first stadium
after = Raymond James Stadium
succession box
title = Home of the
South Florida Bulls
years = 1997 – 1998
before = first stadium
after = Raymond James Stadium
succession box
title = Host of the
Outback Bowl
years = 1986 – 1998
before = Legion Field
after = Raymond James Stadium
succession box
before = The Kingdome
after = Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
title = Host of the NFL Pro Bowl
years = 1978
succession box
title = Host of the Super Bowl
years = XVIII 1984
XXV 1991
before = Rose Bowl
Louisiana Superdome
after = Stanford Stadium

Major football games held at Tampa Stadium

*NFL Pro Bowl, January 23, 1978 (NFC 14, AFC 13)
*1979 NFC Championship, January 6, 1980 (Los Angeles Rams 9, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0)
*Super Bowl XVIII, January 22, 1984 (Los Angeles Raiders 38, Washington Redskins 9)
*July 15, 1984 USFL Championship Game (Philadelphia Stars 23, Arizona Wranglers 3)
*Super Bowl XXV, January 27, 1991 (New York Giants 20, Buffalo Bills 19)

External links

* [http://tour.tbo.com/tour/stops/oldtampastadium.htm Tour of Tampa Stadium at tbo.com]


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