The Tampa Bay area isn't the biggest of markets, and it's been hit hard by the recession. That kind of combination can be deadly for sports teams, and people like Hugh Culverhouse took full advantage in years past. The Bucs used to be a perennial loser - because Culverhouse tried to squeeze every last penny out of the franchise. Then the Glazers came in and spent money. They ran into salary cap problems from spending too much, and then spent on a state-of-the-art training facility to replace an old wooden shed that served as an office. Of course, the Glazers haven't spent in recent years and fears of Culverhouse return. But whether or not the fears of Culverhouse-era cheapness are realistic, there's one difference: the approach of the team.
First, the Bucs have gotten a lot of production out of very little cash in 2010. Whether this is a recipe for the future or just an effect of rebuilding remains to be seen, but the Bucs have managed to draft well, scout well and continually add talent to the roster throughout the season. As long as they continue to focus on that, they will do a good job of filtering out young talent, and young talent is almost always cheaper than older talent, except for the top 15 or so draft picks. Think of what the Tampa Bay Rays have done the past years: they've managed to perform with a very low payroll because they've been smart about how they spend. That's what the Bucs managed to do last year, and if revenues remain low because of the economic situation, that's the only way they'll remain competitive.
Second, the Bucs are trying to increase their market appeal in various different ways in order to boost their revenue. The Glazers have the advantage of owning a Premier League team in Manchester United, and I'm sure they've stolen some ideas from those teams. The Glazers apparently infected other NFL owners too, as Stan Kroenke has increased his Arsenal share to the extent that he owns the club now. In any case, soccer clubs do a lot of marketing worldwide without ever really getting out of Europe and that brings them a lot of money. The Glazers are trying to do the same thing for the Bucs, building an international fanbase alongside a national one. The fact that the Bucs appear willing to play a home game in London again clearly shows this. Don't take this to mean the Bucs owners are willing to move the team to London - this would be completely unfeasible. But they're clearly looking for ways to expand the brand and increase revenue from various different sources.
Their candidacy for Hard Knocks, which seems to have picked up steam in the last couple of days, underscores this point. Hard Knocks would greatly increase the Bucs' national profile, and hence bring in new fans and more revenue. You can see this in other ways too: Raheem Morris kept the Bucs in the headlines with just his words when the results on the field couldn't. The team is trying to increase awareness, and Hard Knocks and a game in London would fit that. So don't be surprised if the Bucs appear on HBO and in London this fall.