When fall is in the air in Tampa Bay, there isn’t much of a dead giveaway that the seasons have changed. In fact, beaches are still packed well into November, the trees don’t begin to change colors (or at all for that matter), and that 90-degree temperature reading on the thermostat still feels more like 100-plus. But there is one season noticeably present around the Bay area, and that’s football season.
The Buccaneers, for a very long time since their inaugural 1976 season, were a very bad football team until they turned things around in the late 1990s. That never stopped or changed the frequency nor how fans tailgate before games, making tailgating before games much bigger than many realize. The food, the music, and the atmosphere define tailgating in Tampa Bay.
Tampa is known for a lot of its multicultural cuisine. From Latin, to Italian, and everything in between, you will not be disappointed finding food to satisfy your senses. Tailgating before Buccaneers games is no different.
In parking lots, you’ll find fans with their barbecue grills set up cooking anything they feel like eating before, and sometimes even after games. You can find fans firing up burgers, hot dogs, sausages, chicken, ribs, and much more. If that isn’t enough, vendors even come in and set up shop along streets blocked off for pedestrian traffic with their own fixins for fans to enjoy. Or if that’s not what fans are in the mood for, they will frequently pick up some made to order from their favorite local food spot.
Oh, and of course, there are beverages of the adult variety to enjoy.
I’m not sure what it is about music and people when they come together, but there is no shortage of tunes being played throughout all the tailgate spots. You name a genre and you’ll be sure to hear it. There is rock, hip-hop, pop, dance, oldies, and some music that may not even have a genre designation.
If that isn’t enough, bands come and play throughout the parking lots or even find a couple sprinkled throughout the outside of the stadium gates. So whether fans are out by their vehicles or making their way to the stadium entrances, music is sure to follow them wherever they go.
The Fan Atmosphere
Music and food sure do know how to bring people together. But traditionally, it’s the people that bring people together. More specifically, the fans bring each other together. The games become an all-day event. It’s not about the three hours spent inside the stadium watching the game, but the whole experience.
Beyond the food and music is the partying, throwing footballs, high-fiving one another as they make their way through the parking lots, chanting “TAMPA-BAY” while getting others riled up, playing cornhole, and much more. Neighborhoods lining the stadium parking lots even open their yards up for fan parking. Some homeowners even allow these strangers throw their own tailgate gatherings right on their yards while other property owners host tailgate parties of their own to attract fans walking through the streets towards the stadium.
It all comes together to make the atmosphere of a great fan experience what it is today.
It always helps when the home team is successful as it allows for more fans to make their way to the stadium area for game days even when they don’t have a ticket to enter the stadium. Win or lose, the fans seem to always come together for tailgates and end up leaving as an extended family regardless of the outcome from inside Raymond James Stadium.