The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tampa Sports Authority have agreed "in principle" on a deal that would result in $100 million in upgrades to Raymond James Stadium, the Tampa Tribune reports. As a result the Bucs will be allowed to move both of its two preseason games away from Tampa the next two years, with the Tampa Sports Authority commenting they would conflict with construction.
The Bucs had previously tried to negotiate the right to play two regular season games away from Tampa per year, but that deal is off the table. Instead, the Bucs will have the right to play one regular season game away from Raymond James Stadium every year, as they do now. The Bucs will also have the right to play one preseason game per year away from Tampa starting in 2018, after the two preseason games per year in 2016 and 2017..
The key elements of the agreement call for the Bucs to pay a minimum of $58 million toward the improvements, while Hillsborough County would contribute $29 million. But the team would likely spend more than $70 million, said county Commissioner Ken Hagan, a member of the sports authority board.
The county's contribution would come from 4 cents of the 5-cent county tourist tax, which must be spent on sports facilities or promoting tourism. The county is obligated to pay part of the cost of any stadium upgrades under the original lease agreement with the Bucs.
The sports authority would also see an increased percentage of revenue from non-Bucs events at the stadium, most of which flows to the Bucs right now. The Tribune cites Hagan as saying the deal would result in an additional $200,000 to $250,000 going to taxpayers annually.
The two sides have been trying to get stadium upgrades done for years on end with little result, and decades-old video boards featuring indecipherable replays is the most obivous result of that deficiency. The Tribune claims those video boards will be replaced by new models which would put the Bucs "near the top of the NFL stadium hierarchy" in terms of size. Similarly, a state-of-the-art sound system will be installed before the 2017 college football championship game to be played at the stadium.