Bucs moving practice to Dolphins facility to avoid Hurricane Ian

The NFL is monitoring the storm and will make a decision about Sunday’s game against the Chiefs in a few days.
There is a chance the NFL could move the Bucs' game Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs to another city, head coach Todd Bowles said Monday.
There is a chance the NFL could move the Bucs' game Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs to another city, head coach Todd Bowles said Monday. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]
Published Sept. 26, 2022|Updated Sept. 27, 2022

TAMPA — The Bucs will travel to south Florida on Tuesday to begin practicing at the Miami Dolphins’ training facility to avoid interruption from Hurricane Ian.

For now, Sunday night’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs is still scheduled to be played at Raymond James Stadium. The NFL is monitoring the progress of the storm and likely won’t make a decision until Wednesday or Thursday at the earliest.

The Bucs will utilize the Dolphins practice field and weight room only, not their meeting rooms.

The Dolphins play Thursday night at Cincinnati against the Bengals and will be traveling there Wednesday, when the Bucs begin preparing for the Chiefs.

Earlier Monday, coach Todd Bowles said the Bucs were working with the league on finding a place to practice and maybe relocate the game.

Bowles was asked if the league has discussed the possibility of moving the Bucs’ home game to another city.

“Possibly, if it gets to that,” he said.

Raymond James Stadium will be used by emergency services for personnel and equipment staging during the hurricane and not utilized as a public shelter, a spokesperson for the Tampa Sports Authority said.

The league may decide to flex another game for “Sunday Night Football” or even move the Bucs-Chiefs game to Monday night.

But there was too much unknown about the path of Ian on Monday to make a decision.

“We’ve got some things coming up this week, some adversity to deal with in terms of the weather here in Tampa so just kind of a lot of prep on this Monday for our plans for the week and trying to get some prep for a tough opponent, the Chiefs, trying to get over a loss,” Bucs quarterback Tom Brady said on his Let’s Go! podcast.

“You know a lot of people in this Tampa Bay area sounds like they’re going to be affected by the hurricane that’s coming and I know our team is making some adjustments to our schedule. A lot going on on this Monday, not just dealing with the loss but also dealing with some upcoming plans in the week, which is very atypical.”

Brady lives in an evacuation zone on Davis Islands.

“This is a little new for me,’' Brady said of preparing for a hurricane. “I’ve never had to deal with anything like this. We had COVID for a couple years and now with this seems like pretty intense hurricane coming our way, I don’t think Tampa is — I don’t think any place is suited for a hurricane to hit. But everyone in this area will be in our thoughts and prayers as we go through it. ...

“I don’t think that anyone is prepared for this. I know I’ve been preparing all morning, getting all my stuff outside, trying to put it inside. Trying to get all the stuff on the ground level a little bit higher. I’m right here on the bay. They’re talking about pretty high storm surges and it’s a scary thing. I will say that. It’s a scary thing when it really hits your doorstep.”

This isn’t the first time the Bucs have had to confront hurricane preparations.

In 2017, the NFL cancelled the season opener against the Dolphins because of Irma. The game was moved to the teams’ shared bye week, meaning both had to play 16 straight games.

The Bucs made plans to practice at the University of Minnesota in case they were unable to return home, since they visited the Vikings in Week 3.

The team chartered a flight for players and their families to Charlotte, North Carolina, to ride out the storm. Some opted to travel north to Georgia and Alabama but had difficulties returning to Tampa due to a gasoline shortage.

But Irma came ashore south of the Tampa Bay area, and the Bucs hosted the Chicago Bears in Week 2 as planned.

In 2004, the Bucs were holding training camp at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista as Hurricane Charley moved up Florida’s Gulf Coast.

The team postponed practice to allow time for players to secure their homes and families. Many of them relocated to the Celebration Hotel, where the team was staying during training camp.

But Charley made landfall near Punta Gorda and then passed through the central and eastern parts of the Orlando metropolitan area, including the city of Celebration.

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