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Hey Bucco, your days are numbered

Everyone expected that "Bucco Bruce," the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' plumed pirate logo, eventually would be put out to sea.

Now it looks as if he will walk the plank off the HMS Bounty.

It's part of a new uniform promotion the Bucs apparently are planning for April 8-9 at The Pier in St. Petersburg and the waterfront in Tampa.

Bucs officials have discussed leasing the HMS Bounty for a party at The Pier in St. Petersburg April 8. They plan to sail it the next day to Tampa, where fans finally will get a glimpse of the new threads.

The team still is planning the celebration, described as a symbolic attempt to "bridge the two communities."

"What (the Bucs) discussed is having a party here on April 8 and the next day sailing it over from St. Pete to Tampa," said Ken Sullivan, who books the tours and is the retail sales manager for the HMS Bounty.

"The idea is to bridge the two communities and the sail itself would be symbolic by casting off the old uniforms into the water off the plank. The new uniform would be brought out of a giant treasure chest in Tampa."

The team on Tuesday would confirm only plans to unveil the new uniforms on April 9 but hinted at a gala send-off for Bucco Bruce.

"We understand the significance of this event to the people of Tampa Bay," said Rick McNerney, the team's vice president of marketing and communications. ""So we have a full slate of activities planned.

"We've sensed a great deal of optimism about the future of this team. We think our new uniforms will provide the spark for even more excitement. Of course, Bucco Bruce still has his followers, so we'll make sure he gets a proper send-off as well."

Although the Bucs have attempted to keep their new uniform and logo design a secret, a near total color change from orange, red and white long has been expected.

Many of those who have been shown the new design have been asked to sign confidentiality agreements.

But reports have centered on a design featuring silver helmets with red jerseys and silver pants, and black and burnt orange used as trim.

Expected to replace the Bucco Bruce logo is an adaptation of the Jolly Roger pirate flag.

The NFL would not allow a skull-and-crossbones because of its potential use as a gang symbol, so the crossbones are expected to be replaced by swords.

The Bucs also inquired about leasing Captain Memo's Pirate Cruise ship out of Clearwater and having it sail to The Pier in St. Petersburg and then to Tampa as part of the April 8-9 celebration, according to sales manager Pam Wozencraft.

But Wozencraft said the cost of leasing the ship for three days may have been prohibitive and said Captain Memo's has not had further contact with the team.

The Bounty is a replica of the 18th century square rigger sailed by Capt. William Bligh and was used in the 1962 film Mutiny on the Bounty. It is docked at The Pier in St. Petersburg from February until the end of April and maintained by the non-profit Tall Ship HMS Bounty Foundation.

Almost as soon as Malcolm Glazer purchased the Bucs in January 1995 and named sons Bryan and Joel as vice presidents, they promised to change the uniform the team has worn since its inception in 1976.

Plans were postponed for two seasons until last September when Hillsborough County voters approved a half-cent sales tax that would be used in part to help finance a new stadium and keep the team in Tampa Bay.

The Glazers have been working closely on the new uniform design with NFL Properties, the marketing arm of the National Football League.

They have conducted market research in and out of the Tampa Bay area and have organized focus groups that generally have given the new design approval.

The new uniform design won't directly result in increased revenue for the Bucs owners. The NFL splits equally among its 30 teams all revenue earned in the sale of licensed products.

Ingredients for a new image

The new Buccaneers unifroms still is one of the best kept secrets in the bay area, but here are some early clues.

+ The team logo is expected to include a skull and crossed swords.

+ Red jerseys, and black and burnt orange trim.

+ Silver pants and helmets.

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