The state-of-the-art facilities at the Wide World of Sports Complex have made Disney a popular destination for the Buccaneers
It's an announcement any kid would love: We're going back to Disney!
That's where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are headed next summer for the fourth year in a row. It doesn't exactly qualify as a vacation – wind-sprints and bed checks not being normal holiday pastimes – but the Bucs are thrilled to be headed back to the Magic Kingdom.
On Wednesday, the Buccaneers announced that they would hold their 2005 training camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex. The team first moved camp up I-4 to Lake Buena Vista in 2002, the season that ended in Tampa Bay's victory in Super Bowl XXXVII. The Bucs then returned to Central Florida in '03 and '04 and will now be back again in '05.
The team will also house its players, coaches and staff at the Celebration Hotel for the third consecutive year.
"We are very excited to head back to Disney and we are looking forward to another great year at the complex," said Buccaneers Senior Director of Business Administration Mike Newquist. "We have received first-class service the last three years and we are thrilled to continue training in one of the nation's premier facilities."
The full training camp schedule will not be announced until next summer, but the work generally begins in late July and extends into the middle of August, with most days including morning and afternoon practices. Last year, the Bucs reported to camp on Friday, July 30 and intended to hold their last Disney practice on Wednesday, August 18, before Hurricane Charley forced a change of schedule.
Until 2002, the Bucs had spent the better part of two decades training at the nearby University of Tampa. The Wide World of Sports grounds are about 80 miles from Tampa, and there are few opportunities during the approximately three weeks of camp for players to return home. Head Coach Jon Gruden enjoys the opportunity to get his team together and totally focused on football.
"It's a matter of taking it to Orlando and really coming together as a team 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he said before last year's camp.
As usual, all of the Buccaneers' practices in Lake Buena Vista will be open to the public. While Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex has a daily admission for its events, Buccaneer practices at training camp will be free to all fans.
Most of the practices are heavily attended.
"Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp remains one of the most popular events on our annual schedule at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex," said Reggie Williams, vice president of Disney Sports Attractions. "We look forward to welcoming the Buccaneers players, coaches and fans back to Central Florida this summer as the team prepares for the 2005 NFL season."
Spread over 220 acres in the heart of the Walt Disney World Resort, Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex plays host to more than 170 events each year for professional and amateur athletes in some 30 sports. The state-of-the-art facility includes nine venues and is home to more than 40 Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) National Championships, Atlanta Braves Spring Training, the Sports Experience interactive area and the All Star Cafe sports-themed restaurant.
The Buccaneers are the first NFL team to train at Wide World of Sports. The Disney complex has also been the home for the Braves (spring training, 1998-present), the NBA's Orlando Magic (training camp, 1997 and 2003), the University of Florida football team (2000 Florida Citrus Bowl), the North Carolina State football team (2001 Tangerine Bowl) and Scotland's Celtic Football Club (mid-season training, 2001 and 2003). World-class athletes such as Tracy McGrady, Daunte Culpepper, Gail Devers and members of the British Olympic Association (BOA) have also used the complex as a training hub.