The Bucs have trained at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex since 2002
For the seventh straight summer, the Buccaneers will hold their training camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex, with team headquarters once again at the nearby Celebration Hotel/
Ask any NFL player and he'll tell you the best part of training camp is leaving training camp.
When you practice on the pristine fields of Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex and sleep in the cushy beds of the Celebration Hotel, however, the arriving isn't too bad, either.
Mainly because of its length (three weeks, usually) and its isolated atmosphere, training camp is seen as a necessary evil by most players. The emphasis, though, is on "necessary." Training camp is an essential part of a team's preparations each year, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have found a very comfortable spot to get that done.
And that's why the Buccaneers are going back to Central Florida for the seventh straight summer.
On Thursday, the team announced that it has finalized agreements to train at Disney and set up headquarters at the Celebration Hotel for its 2008 training camp. The Bucs have held training camp at the Wide World of Sports Complex every summer since 2002. Previously, the team trained in town, at the University of Tampa.
Though the Buccaneers have used the same combination of facilities and headquarters for their last six camps, it was still not a decision that was made lightly. Head Coach Jon Gruden, who led Tampa Bay to the Super Bowl XXXVII title in his first year at the helm and the Bucs' first year at Disney, knows that a successful training camp is key to a successful season.
"You've got to have training camp," said Gruden. "There are fundamentals to football, there are techniques, there are certain things you've got to work on. You've got to bring your team together."
The 60-mile trip up I-4 creates a favorable situation for the Buccaneers. It is far enough from home to create that insular, team-centered environment the coaching staff wants but it is also close enough to allow fans in Tampa to attend practices alongside their Central Florida rooters. As always, all training camp practices in 2008 will be free and open to the public (other areas of the Wide World of Sports complex require an entrance fee).
Most training camp days are structured around morning and afternoon practices – the much-loved "two-a-days" – and the team has access to two full-length football fields for each workout. The complex also devotes large training room, locker room and equipment room spaces to the visiting Buccaneers and has several different weight-training areas.
Before moving training camp to the University of Tampa in the 1980s, the Buccaneers trained at their own facility. They have resisted the urge to travel out of state for a cooler clime, believing that training in Florida's often uncomfortable heat and humidity prepares them for games played in similar conditions. At their camp in Central Florida, the Bucs have combined that notion with a very proactive approach to maintaining player comfort and safety on hot days, including air-conditioned cool-down trailers for mid-practice breaks.
All of the Buccaneers coaches and staff are housed at the nearby Celebration Hotel in the town of Celebration. Meals are also served at the hotel, and the first floor is converted into a series of offices and meeting rooms. At night and between practices, tired players enjoy comfortable beds, maid service, cable television and, if so desired, room service.
It's a formula that has worked for the Buccaneers for six summers. In 2008, they will make it seven.