TAMPA, Fla. – Warren Sapp needs followers of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers might pack the stands for the primary Tremendous Bowl performed in a number workforce’s residence stadium.
Due to coronavirus pandemic issues, the NFL’s resolution to restrict capability to 22,000 at Raymond James Stadium, and hovering costs for a restricted variety of tickets out there for the league’s title recreation will forestall that.
All’s not misplaced, although, for an excited although typically fickle fan base embracing a bittersweet alternative to benefit from the NFC champions on soccer’s largest stage after being pressured to comply with the Tom Brady-led Bucs, in addition to playoff runs by the area’s different two main professional franchises, from afar.
The NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning received the Stanley Cup whereas enjoying the whole postseason in Canada, then was unable to completely rejoice with hometown followers, who had been left to salute the workforce throughout a ship parade and out of doors stadium rally that changed a extra traditional-style celebration on the streets of downtown Tampa.
Main League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays performed two playoff video games in neighboring St. Petersburg earlier than profitable the American League pennant in California and shedding to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a neutral-site World Collection performed in Texas.
The Bucs received three straight playoff video games on the highway to turn out to be the primary workforce to advance to a Tremendous Bowl in its residence stadium.
Tampa Bay has a repute nationally for supporting the Lightning, however not the Bucs and Rays, who routinely rank close to or on the backside of baseball in attendance.
The previous yr really has been particular for all of the franchises, although, and followers are celebrating any approach they’ll.
“The Bucs within the Tremendous Bowl with the sport at residence doesn’t even appear actual. Often there’s a buildup. A workforce goes to the playoffs, loses and goes again and loses once more. It takes time to get good,” long-time fan Justin Heaven stated.
“The Bucs go 7-9 with Jameis Winston, haven’t received a playoff recreation in 18 years and haven’t been to the playoffs in 13,” Heaven added. “Tom Brady involves city and it’s principally: `You need to go to the Tremendous Bowl? Come on, let’s go.’”
Followers fortunately are following, even when they received’t be capable of get in or mingle across the stadium with a game-day crowd that’ll embrace 7,500 vaccinated well being care employees given tickets as a thanks for his or her service throughout the pandemic.
Eating places and bars determine to be busier than they’ve been in months, although a lot of the glitz and glamour often related to the Tremendous Bowl will likely be muted with some occasions canceled and metropolis officers urging native residents and guests to follow social distancing.
“We’ve obtained the largest recreation in our home, we’re in it and might’t fill it? I do know that’s disappointing for lots of followers. However folks have gotten to be good and keep protected,” stated Sapp, one of many stars of Tampa Bay’s Tremendous Bowl championship run 18 years in the past.
“You need that place rocking. 22,000? After which 7,500 of which are going to be impartial, and the remaining possibly break up even. That is simply our luck,” the Corridor of Fame defensive sort out stated. “I’d wish to see all 65,000 — a minimum of 60 — in there pulling for us.”
Derrick Brooks, one other Corridor of Famer and defensive star with the 2002 Bucs, is co-chairman of the Tampa Bay Tremendous Bowl Host Committee, which has labored carefully with the NFL and native sponsors to organize the group to host the title recreation for a fifth time.
It’s the fifty fifth Tremendous Bowl, and Brooks wore No. 55 for the Bucs.
“Clearly, it’s got all people excited. Warren and I had been on the telephone virtually each different play final week watching them beat Inexperienced Bay. That was an entire lot of enjoyable,” Brooks stated.
“With the Lightning profitable the Cup and Rays coming inside a few video games of profitable the World Collection, it’s type of becoming with the Bucs making the primary a part of historical past,” Brooks.
“I say that as a result of the story’s nonetheless being written. They’re nonetheless making historical past and might end it by being the primary to win it of their residence stadium.”
Lightning captain Steven Stamkos and several other teammates took in a Bucs recreation in early October and even introduced alongside the Stanley Cup.
Tremendous Bowl Sunday will likely be a journey day for the hockey champions, in order that they received’t be on the town throughout the recreation.
“It’s been superb to observe and clearly be part of. This metropolis may be very deserving of that. We’ve very loyal fan bases and it’s an amazing sports activities city,” Stamkos stated of the success of the Lightning, Rays, and now the Bucs.
“On the finish of the day we’re all sports activities followers. I grew up enjoying all these sports activities as a child. You type of dream that you would be knowledgeable athlete in a unique sport too,” Stamkos added. “I watch these guys, I love them. It’s inspiring for us as athletes to observe what they need to undergo to attain their desires.”
Tampa mayor Jane Castor and counterparts from St. Petersburg and close by Clearwater, in the meantime, stress the significance of everybody balancing having a superb time and staying protected throughout a pandemic.
“The one folks we wish leaving disillusioned,” the mayor stated, “is the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs.”
Related Press Author Tamara Lush contributed to this report.
Extra AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
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