The enormous football frames the entrance to many wonders inside the Bucs' new facility
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' gleaming new facility inspires awe in those who stand in its wide shadow. It inspires glee among those who explore its immense halls for the first time, discovering one state-of-the-art feature after another. It inspires wonder among players who gaze out over vast rows of weight-training and conditioning machines. It inspires relief among veterans who have escaped the cramped confines of One Buccaneer Place.
But mostly what the new facility inspires is one seriously tied tongue.
Just try to put into words the enormity of the move this NFL team has just made. What is an adequate comparison between the Buccaneers' new home and their old abode? Is there one? The two sites are on completely different scales, like a meteoroid and a star. Like a puddle and the Great Lakes. Like a lemonade stand next to Coca-Cola headquarters.
Call it One Buccaneer Palace. Everything has changed.
"What this does is give us all the tools we need to have no excuses or explanations," said 15th-year veteran Dave Moore, who first encountered One Buccaneer Place in 1992. He has a million stories of the old place, from leaks to rats to cramped rooms. Now he has a million tools at his disposal, tools for improving his game.
"Now you have the treatment facility, the weight room, you have the meeting rooms, you have the film rooms to go to without having to sit in there with your coach to study film. It's really a good opportunity for guys to get better at their profession."
Moore got his first look at the new facility on Monday morning, though he arrived when it was still dark outside and came in through a back entrance. His first sight was the 16,000 square-foot weight room with its endless array of devices. By the time the team had finished its first practice, Moore still hadn't seen the dramatic front façade of the complex, but he had been floored by all the amenities inside.
That's just what the team had in mind as it built this magnum opus of football preparation. General Manager Bruce Allen has watched the facility go up, week by week, over the last year and the end product was exactly what he had hoped for.
"Fabulous, spectacular, wonderful, perfect," said Allen.
"It has everything. It's a great learning center. The weight room, physically it allows the players the ability to improve. Mentally it does the same thing. Each player can watch tape. Derrick Brooks used to have to wait for Joe Barry to leave his desk to watch tape that he wanted to see. Now Derrick Brooks can go into a room and watch video. Shelton Quarles can go into a room at the same time and watch a different video. So can Ryan Nece, and it flows for all of the positions. So we're going to be able to work on the mental aspects of the game as well."
"Now we've got designated areas for guys to go in and watch film, and that will make it a lot easier for us to get better," said cornerback Brian Kelly, a Buc since 1998. "That's one of them. To have that state-of-the-art facility in the weight room is definitely a big plus, and the rehab, to be able to rehab guys who get injured. All of this is very useful."
There is just so much in the new facility. So much room. So much equipment. So much obvious planning, down to the small details. So much opportunity to improve. Let's take a look at that ledger, simply in terms of the space available to do the various types of work that go into building a winning football team:
|Facility Site (acres)
|179 (incl. off-site parking)
|Sq. Footage Breakdown
|No. of Lockers (permanent)
|No of Lockers (temporary)
|Team Dining and Kitchen
|Media and Interview Rooms
|Total Square Footage
Players began to stretch out in all that space on Monday.
"You can sit down and have lunch rather than eat with [people] watching us, or hiding in the training room or hiding in the video room or eating out on the deck between the weights," said Moore. "It just gives you a little more room. I think I can go through the whole day and not see a defensive player until we hit the field. I got in the hot tub today and didn't have to wait in line. I'll be able to get in the cold tub and not have to wait in line.
"The weight room, just to have everything inside, to have plenty of treadmills, plenty of elliptical machines, plenty of bench presses. You don't have to wait when you're lifting with a group of people. You can get in, get your work done and get out. Same thing with the training room, with the hot tubs and the cold tubs. You can get warm without having to get on a schedule. Good stuff."
The coaches immediately began to appreciate the extra tools for the players, too. Those popular film-watching rooms, for instance, had a ripple effect on coaches who would like to get their own work done.
"When we were in a staff meeting, maybe they'd use your office [to watch videotape]," laughed Head Coach Jon Gruden. "You'd come in to your office and there'd be three guys sitting in your chair and a guy hanging on your drapes. A guy's eating lunch at your table. You made do with what you had. This is hopefully going to be a real benefit to us in terms of preparation. We're counting on that."
Gosh, all that and so much more…could it be too much? Will Buc players be pampered into passivity?
"No, no," said Allen. "One Buc Place wasn't the reason they won. They played great on the football field. This new facility is going to allow people to play better. Both physically and mentally they're going to be better-prepared."
That much is obvious to the players, just one day into work at their new headquarters. There were a lot of smiling faces in the place on Monday, according to Allen. Gruden noted an enormous amount of enthusiasm among the players.
"This is a great reason to be enthused," said Gruden. "It is a tremendous statement that our organization made for our players and coaches. I can't speak for everybody but I do know that they're impressed, to say the least. It's a tremendous sight."