From point to point, the football adorning the facility's entrance is nearly five stories tall
The Tampa architectural scenery will soon have a new landmark, and there will be no doubt as to its meaning.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' new, state-of-the-art training facility, now in construction, is on pace to be completed on schedule, just in time for the team's return from training camp. Recently, the rising structure was fitted with its most distinctive feature: an enormous football, stylized in steel and glass, adorning the facility's very entrance. You can watch a video of the football's placement, achieved through the coordinated efforts of three cranes, using the link above.
The entrance structure is visually stunning but it is also plainly symbolic. Simply put, everything that will go on behind those doors will be dedicated to one overriding pursuit.
The new facility will be open for business in August, just in time for the team's return from training camp. Soon, business of all kinds will begin within its sprawling, 145,000-foot confines – finances, equipment management, human resources, scouting, ticket sales, medical rehabilitation, customer service, video editing, strength training, community relations and the rest of the football operations and front office management associated with an NFL team.
But the purpose of the Buccaneers organization is to produce a winning team on the football field, and that's the goal of not only the players and coaches but of every person on staff, no matter how directly or indirectly their jobs relate to the game. And that will be obvious to every person who walks under the shadow of the giant football and into the NFL's finest training facility.
Nearly five stories tall from point to point, the football rests diagonally on the building's façade, as if set on a tee, poised for the action to begin. That, too, is symbolic of the opening of this new facility. It's existence will help the Bucs immeasurably in their pursuit of additional championships.
When Raymond James Stadium opened in 1998, three years after Malcolm Glazer became the Buccaneers' new owner, it was immediately lauded as "The Crown Jewel of the NFL." It remains one of the world's most popular sports venues, in part because of its unique touches, such as Buccaneer Cove and its majestic pirate ship. The new facility, another step in the team's continuing efforts to make every aspect of its operations first-class, promises to be just as distinctive with elements such as the massive football entrance.
The Buccaneers won a Super Bowl in 2002, reaching the pinnacle of the sport just seven years after the Glazer family's arrival. At the time, as is still the case this spring, the team was training at One Buccaneer Place, the original facility that opened in 1976. The insular nature of the headquarters – Head Coach Jon Gruden took to calling it "The Woodshed" – helped the team draw tighter as it pursued its ultimate goal, and afterward the team appreciated every step of its path to the championship.
Nevertheless, it has been clear for some time that the Buccaneers needed a new, more expansive and more complete facility to continue operating as one of the league's elite franchises, and to remain a popular free agent destination. A winning team, a proven coaching staff and Florida's sunny weather are all strong pulls for free agents, but a top-notch training environment is also critical.
"Players are a business within themselves and one of the reasons they select a club is that they want to make sure they can maximize their talent," said General Manager Bruce Allen on the day details of the planned new facility were announced. "Sometimes that comes from proper training, proper weight equipment and the perfect environment. I think with this world-class facility, we're going to set a new standard in all of sports for the future of taking care of players and taking care of coaches."
That day is almost upon is. The football is now on the tee, and the Bucs are ready to kick off a new era in franchise history.