The NFL is and always be the most-watched sport on TV. Though viewership declined slightly during Kneelgate, it bounced back.
Attendance, however, is a different story. Fans prefer to sit on their couches or at a bar than attend a game in-person. They can see and hear the action better, it’s less expensive and far more convenient.
It’s funny to state attendance is “low” when 33.8 million people went to NFL games in 2018. The attendance issue is not just at Raymond James Stadium, but league-wide. According to Forbes, the regular season saw average attendance at 67,100, the lowest average since 2011. The smallest crowd at Raymond James in more than eight years was the matchup versus the 49ers in November.
As a result, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization is analyzing ways to draw fans back to Raymond James by enhancing the total gameday experience.
“Every year we look at ways to improve our fan experience,” said Buccaneers Chief Operating Officer Brian Ford.
“Get off the couch and see it up close and personal.”
Here’s a look at the team’s new offerings, unveiled Thursday during the 2019 Raymond James Stadium preview:
Legends, the new exclusive hospitality rights partner, will manage the team’s concessions and restaurant dining. Fans will notice the quality of the food and the variety of options. Legends Senior Executive Chef Jason Choate debuted a new lineup of menu offerings that featured items such as prime rib pizza box nachos, ropa vieja (shredded beef) grilled cheese, Tampa roll, street tacos, and veggie Cuban sandwiches.
Marking the first time that outside food brands will have a presence at Raymond James Stadium, the Bucs welcomed homegrown companies PDQ and RumFish Grill, Tampa Bay-area favorites. “Through these partnerships, we are providing the finest products and service to our fans,” said Ford.
The stadium has been undergoing a multiphase $160 million renovation. Last season, upgrades to the East Stadium Club were revealed, along with the new Bucs Beach. This year, the West Stadium Club, team store, and the locker room were the recipients of a facelift.
More than 2,400 square feet of in-venue retail space was added. This includes the team store inside the West Stadium Club and newly renovated stores at each quadrant on the 100 level of the stadium, highlighted by a Women of Red shop (located on the 100D section of the main concourse). The variety of new team-branded apparel includes offerings from Nike, Tommy Bahama, Vineyard Vines, Cutter Buck and more. The Bucs Team Store is now managed by Fanatics.
The Buccaneers rolled out an update to their official app on Friday. The new features cater specifically to fans attending the stadium. Updates include secure digital ticketing and stadium/concessions maps.
The team previewed a demonstration of the Intel True View replay system, which will be implemented later this season. The innovative technology, which uses 38 5K ultra-HD cameras positioned throughout the stadium to create an immersive 360-degree reconstruction of plays, will allow fans in the stadium to see plays from every angle.
Local Chef Showcase
It’s not just Cameron Brate who is looking to make a comeback this season. The Buccaneers announced that Local Chef Showcase, which made its rookie debut in 2018, returns. Each home game will feature a signature dish created by one of the area’s best chefs and restaurant proprietors. Sunday’s Local Chef Showcase will be represented by Chef Gino Tiozzo of Donatello Italian Restaurant.
Enhancements to the live gameday experience are greatly appreciated. Want a way to really bring fans back to Raymond James? Win games.