Raymond James Stadium in Tampa will be on full display come January, when it hosts college football’s national championship game. The efforts to modernize the facility not just for the now, but for even bigger championship games in the future, remain on track this summer.
The progress of Phase 1 of a two-tiered renovation of the stadium, which is home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and South Florida Bulls, was trumpeted on social media and in the online world of video games in recent days.
The main thrust of this summer’s renovations – the installation of end zone video boards measuring 10,000 square feet and four 2,300-square foot video towers in each corner of the stadium – were featured in a tweet put out by South Florida’s football program and promoted in an animated GIF released by EA Sports’ Madden 2016.
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@TBBuccaneers) July 12, 2016
“Basically 10-story buildings rising in Ray Jay end zones. 2016….it’s gonna be huge!” the Bulls tweeted, along with four photos of the installation.
— USF Football (@USFFootball) July 14, 2016
The 10,000-square foot video boards at Raymond James would be the third-largest in the NFL, behind EverBank Field in Jacksonville and NRG Stadium in Houston.
Raymond James is also getting an updated broadcast control room, increasing from five standard definition in-stadium cameras to 12, all of which will be in 1080i HD, and from six replay channels to 18. The cameras will be able to zoom up to 99x, which as the Buccaneers said in a blog post, would allow a person waving from the control room to be seen in downtown Tampa.
The video boards and control room — as well as luxury suites, HD ribbon display boards around the center ring of the suite level and concession upgrades — are scheduled to be completed in time for the 2016 season.
The second stage of the renovation project will include upgrades to the club lounges and a fan store, which should be completed before the start of the 2017 season.
All of which puts Raymond James Stadium back in line to host a Super Bowl for the first time since 2009. The Bucs recently missed out on Super Bowls through 2021, with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell recently awarding games to Atlanta (2019), Miami (’20) and Los Angeles (’21), but the commissioner made it clear to Buccaneers co-chairmen Bryan and Joel Glazer that the upgraded stadium will be viable for Super Bowls once again.
“We are going from a little over 4,000 thousand square feet of total video space to over 28,000 thousand square feet with the scoreboard, tower wall and ribbon space,” Buccaneers COO Brian Ford told News Channel 8. “There is a lot of competition out there. There is a lot of state-of-the-art stadiums. I truly believe Raymond James Stadium is the crown jewel, but she is 18 years old and these enhancements are going to bring her to the next level.”
UPDATE: The Bucaneerss have just announced “The New Raymond James Experiene,” a virtual reality tour of the renovations. By going to the PreView Center at the team’s training facility, One Buccaneer Place, fans will be able to use a Oculus Rift VR headset and take a guided tour of the new amenities at Raymond James Stadium.
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