Tampa Bay Cup Celebrations Kick-Start Stadium Reopening Tampa Bay Cup Celebrations Kick-Start Stadium Reopening
Tampa Bay fans have not yet been able to see the Buccaneers play in person, but they will be allowed into Raymond James Stadium... Tampa Bay Cup Celebrations Kick-Start Stadium Reopening

Tampa Bay fans have not yet been able to see the Buccaneers play in person, but they will be allowed into Raymond James Stadium Wednesday. The field will host a celebration for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who captured the franchises first Stanley Cup this week with a 4-2 series win over Dallas. Tickets for the celebration were available for free through Ticketmaster, though they were grabbed quickly.

A capacity of 15,000 is expected for the celebration at Raymond James Stadium. Seats are arranged in a pod format, similar to what is expected when the Buccaneers begin allowing fans to attend. The stadium event will follow a boat parade through the city waterways on Wednesday, with fans encouraged to attend in socially distant fashion along the banks while the team floats by.

Wednesday’s festivities kick off a busy week for the stadium, which will allow a small number of fans for Sunday’s Buccaneers game against the Chargers. Season ticket members since 1998 or earlier will be the first to come through the doors for NFL games in the newly minted Tom Brady era. The team plans to increase capacity to 25 percent for its next home game on October 18 against the Green Bay Packers. South Florida will also begin allowing fans for its dates at Raymond James Stadium beginning with its contest against East Carolina.

“The safety of our fans, players and staff has been our top priority throughout this process,” said Buccaneers Chief Operating Officer Brian Ford. “We have worked closely with the TSA and local authorities to ensure that Raymond James Stadium is ready to host our fans for the remainder of this highly anticipated season. Game days may seem a little different this season, but we remain as committed as ever to providing our fans with the first-in-class experience they have grown to expect.”

After receiving over $10 million in coronavirus aid, the stadium has made a number of modifications in its operations to provide a safer fan atmosphere amid the pandemic. Included in those changes are touchscreen ticket scanning devices, sanitation stations, and thermometers deployed to every entry point.

Governor Ron DeSantis has made no bones about his desires to see a full stadium in Tampa Bay. He publicly disagreed with the team’s decision not to host fans to start the season. He stressed the importance of bringing fans back soon in preparation for hosting the Super Bowl in February. “We expect to do a full Super Bowl,” he said. “We’re going to show that we’re going to be able to do that.”

This week will be a key waypoint on the city’s journey towards that goal, beginning with the 15,000 fans expected tonight to celebrate the cup.