The already magnificent Raymond James Stadium was given some added sparkle by the NFL for Super Bowl XXXV
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers began the 2000 NFL season with the goal of becoming the first team to play a Super Bowl in its own home stadium.
When a Wild Card playoff loss to Philadelphia on December 31 ended that dream, the Bucs passed the mantle of hometown hopefuls on to the New Orleans Saints for 2001.
Or did they?
Currently, Super Bowl XXXVI is scheduled to take place in the Louisiana Superdome on January 27, 2002. However, while it is not likely Plan A for the NFL's, the game's location could change and Tampa could become the first city ever to host back-to-back Super Bowls.
On Thursday, both the league and Buccaneers management confirmed that the possibility has been discussed.
"The league's number one priority is to keep the Super Bowl in New Orleans, but due to the circumstances we're looking at any and all options in order to keep the playoffs intact," said NFL spokesperson Chris McCloskey. "That includes moving the Super Bowl and Tampa is one of the cities under consideration."
When last weekend's full slate of games was postponed in the wake of the terrorist attacks on America, the league eventually decided to reschedule the games for the weekend of January 5-7. Since that weekend was originally earmarked for the Wild Card round, and since the league would prefer to keep its 12-team playoff field intact, the search has begun for a way to rework the entire postseason schedule, if possible
Unlike last year, there is only one week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl this season. That leaves no open weekends between the regular season and the Super Bowl and means a new date for the final game has at least been contemplated. A new date could also mean a new location, conceivably, since New Orleans will be dominated by an auto convention on the weekend of February 2-3, 2002.
Tampa has hosted the Super Bowl three times, including last January. Super Bowl XVIII was held in Tampa Stadium after the 1983 season, and the league returned with Super Bowl XXV after the 1990 campaign. Coincidentally, that latter championship game, held on January 27, 1991, occurred while the United States was entering into the Gulf War in the Middle East.