TAMPA — You couldn’t find a ticket to Tom Brady’s first game at Raymond James Stadium against the Carolina Panthers last September due to the pandemic that kept fans away.
You likely won’t be able to watch Brady and the defending Super Bowl 55 champions in Tampa during 2021, either. Not unless you had already purchased tickets as a season pass member.
The Bucs announced Thursday that they will play with full-capacity seating this season but are completely sold out for their two preseason and eight regular-season home games, including the NFL opener vs. the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday, Sept. 9.
The seating capacity for Raymond James Stadium is 65,890.
This is believed to be the first time in franchise history every ticket has been pre-sold to season pass members more than a month before the start of training camp.
As a result, the Bucs are beginning a wait list for fans wanting to purchase season passes in future years. That hasn’t happened since 2003, the year after the franchise won Super Bowl 37.
“This is a momentous achievement for the organization and our fans,” said Bucs Chief Operating Officer Brian Ford. “We have worked closely with the Tampa Sports Authority to welcome back the best fans in the NFL and we are excited to play in a completely full Raymond James Stadium this upcoming season. To have the entire season sold out before we even reach training camp is a testament to the passionate and loyal fan base.”
Call it the Brady effect.
The 43-year-old quarterback joined a Bucs franchise that had not made the playoffs in a dozen years or won a playoff game since the 2002 season. He helped the Bucs rewrite history by becoming the first team to win a Super Bowl in their home stadium.
But due to COVID-19 protocols, only 24,835 fans were in attendance for Super Bowl 55, which represented the largest crowd for a Bucs game at Raymond James for 2020-21.
The Bucs say the decision to move to full capacity for the 2021 season was made in accordance with CDC guidelines and in consultation with the Tampa Sports Authority. Fans who have received a COVID-19 vaccination will not have to wear a face covering to games. Those who are unvaccinated will be required to wear masks.
In March, the Bucs sent out invoices that included an increase in ticket prices for season pass holders, anywhere from 10 to 45 percent for the upcoming season.
The Bucs said in a release Thursday that they had sold every seat in the general admission, premium and club areas, and luxury suites to existing or new season pass members.
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The newly established season pass member priority wait list requires a $100 deposit that will be applied to future purchases.
Brady threw for 4,633 yards and 40 touchdowns with 12 interceptions during the regular season in 2020, despite playing on an injured left knee that required surgery in February. After a 7-5 start, he led the Bucs to eight straight wins, including a 31-9 victory over Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in Super Bowl 55.
It was the seventh Lombardi Trophy for Brady, who is the last player to win back-to-back Super Bowls. He did it with the Patriots during the 2003-04 seasons.
The Bucs return all 22 starters, becoming the first defending Super Bowl champion to do so since the Oakland Raiders in 1977.
Due to the pandemic, the Bucs averaged 14,483 fans per home game last season, which ranked third in the NFL. In 2019, the year prior to Brady’s arrival, the Bucs ranked 30th in the NFL with an average home attendance of 51,898.
In fact, since 2010, the Bucs have only finished higher than 29th in home attendance in the NFL twice, including a highwater mark of 26th in 2015 with an average of 61,560. The last time the Bucs averaged more than 64,000 fans at Raymond James Stadium was 2008.
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