Clear78° FULL FORECASTClear78° FULL FORECAST
Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bucs' proposal to move games insults local fans

In what has become a complicated and contentious negotiation with the Tampa Sports Authority about sprucing up Raymond James Stadium, the Bucs are trying to slip in a clause that allows them to play one preseason and up to two regular-season games in another city. [DIRK SHADD | Times]

In what has become a complicated and contentious negotiation with the Tampa Sports Authority about sprucing up Raymond James Stadium, the Bucs are trying to slip in a clause that allows them to play one preseason and up to two regular-season games in another city. [DIRK SHADD | Times]

TAMPA

Let's get this straight.

For the past 10 years, the Bucs have been one of the most pitiful franchises in all of sports. No playoff victories. Four straight losing seasons. The worst team in football last year.

Attendance and interest, as you can imagine, are down. So the Bucs came up with a swell idea to drum up business: start playing "home'' games in places other than Tampa Bay.

Is that a threat or a promise?

Actually, this is no laughing matter. Here's what it is: the latest example of an arrogant NFL team thinking the public is made up of rubes who should blindly follow every decision it makes and be thankful for it.

In what has become a complicated, contentious negotiation with the Tampa Sports Authority about sprucing up Raymond James Stadium, the Bucs are trying to slip in a clause that allows them to play one preseason game and up to two regular-season games in another city.

I'm not sure what's more galling: that the Bucs would try this or that they thought they could get away with it without anyone having a problem with it.

Nearly as confounding is that the Sports Authority is okay with the idea as long as the Bucs don't play in the same city more than once per season, something the team has not agreed to.

Maybe this is the first step to the Bucs moving someday, or maybe it isn't. But I do know this: Whenever a team wants to play games outside of its home market, it is never a good thing.

There are a lot of moving parts to these talks.

Let's start with the Bucs being willing to add up to $75 million to the Sports Authority's $25 million to fix up Raymond James Stadium in time for the 2017 college football national championship game.

Great. That's the way it should be. It's about time. The Bucs should kick in some dough seeing as how they didn't spend a dime to build the stadium in the first place. Hillsborough County residents footed the bill for that.

The Bucs also are the stadium's primary tenant and get the lion's share of the revenue from events there. They should want to have the most attractive stadium possible to attract paying customers.

Yet — and this is an example of the ego involved — the Bucs want to be patted on the back for putting up money to make their home look nice.

Then there's the matter of the Bucs forgiving a Sports Authority IOU of about $11 million for a practice facility. The Bucs went ahead and spent their own money for One Buc Place and now are willing to let the Sports Authority off the hook.

Again, great. Seeing as how the taxpayers built the stadium, the least the NFL team worth $1.5 billion can do is build its own practice facilities and offices.

Now, back to this notion of playing games somewhere else.

The Bucs will tell you it's smart business, a way to grow their fan base. If the Bucs can play a couple of games a year in, say, Orlando, it might attract enough fans to drive across I-4 to start filling up Raymond James again.

Then again, if the Bucs end up playing games in London, that could be a little more devious, and you don't want to consider the worst-case scenario of that plot.

The Bucs also consider playing a few out-of-market games as insurance for their investment. They see it like this: What if they fix up the stadium and fix the on-field product, and still they can't draw decent crowds? The out-of-market games would at least allow them to recoup some of their money and, though they would never admit it, use that other city as a bargaining chip when their lease runs out in 2028.

It would appear the Bucs have no regard for their dedicated season-ticket holders who might lose three games a year. It also would appear that the Bucs have no regard for the local residents who work the various jobs at Raymond James (concessions, ushers, etc.) on game day who would lose income if games were played elsewhere.

To the Bucs, it's all about maybe picking up a few extra thousand fans outside Tampa Bay, even if it means alienating a few thousand fans inside Tampa Bay.

The whole thing simply smells fishy.

It takes a lot of nerve to trot out the slop the Bucs have on the field the past several years and then doubt the weary fan base enough to want to ask for the option to play three games a year somewhere else. Just asking for the option is insulting.

Here's a thought for the Bucs: How about putting a decent football team on the field? How about winning some games? How about giving local fans a reason to go to the games other than a nice scoreboard? Instead of a state-of-the-art sound system, how about a state-of-the-art pass defense.

Straighten out the team, and if fans still don't come, then you can start talking about taking road trips to play home games.

In the meantime, stop acting as if you're doing Tampa Bay a favor by fixing up a stadium that taxpayers built and stop giving them a team that hasn't won a regular-season game in that stadium in nearly two years.

In the end, how about treating the fans you already have here in Tampa Bay better than the fans you don't have in another city.

After all, you are the TAMPA BAY Buccaneers.

Bucs' proposal to move games insults local fans 10/01/15 [Last modified: Thursday, October 1, 2015 9:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2016 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...