An NFL Football Fan’s Guide to Tampa Bay, Florida

American Football

The Oakland Raiders  face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week eight of the 2016 NFL season with a 5-2 record, their best start since 2002. Can they defeat the Bucs, their spoilers in 2003 for a fourth Super Bowl ring?


Pirate ship at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida. Photo Credit: Bernard Gagnon.


Sunday 26 January 2013 is a day that will forever live in infamy for fans of the Oakland Raiders.

Following a return from Los Angeles 1995 and seven disappointing NFL seasons, the Oakland Raiders won the AFC West with an 11 – 5  regular season record in 2002.

The legendary football team went on to beat the New York Jets by a score to 30 – 10 in the divisional playoffs and the Tennessee Titans by a score of 41 to 24 in the AFC championship.

Could anyone stop the Silver and Black?

Baja Oakland

It was off to San Diego, a.k.a. Baja Oakland, where the Oakland Raiders would face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Conference of the National Football League in Super Bowl XXXVII.

One sports columnist at the San Diego Tribune quipped that there were so many Raiders fans in America’s Finest City that it would be the first time in NFL history that a football team would have a home field advantage in the Super Bowl.

An estimated 200,000 Raiders fan from around the Raider Nation descended on San Diego – most of whom didn’t even have tickets to the Super Bowl.

These passionate Raider fans just wanted to be a part of the action, even if they would have to watch Super Bowl XXXVII in their hotel or motel room or at a sports bar in San Diego’s Gaslight District.

Black Sunday

And then came Black Sunday.

Despite the hype – and the prediction of most sports commentators that the Raiders would prevail –  the Silver and Black were blown off the field by a humiliating score of 48-21 in one of the biggest Super Bowl debacles of all time.

It was my one and only trip to a Super Bowl, and I must say, it was an exhilarating experience. But coming that far and them losing – especially by such a margin – was a devastating experience.

But what else would you expect? Their coach knew our playbook! Jon Gruden had coached the Raiders from 1998 through 2001, moving to the Bucs in 2002.

2016 NFL Season


Entrance of Raymond Jamesa Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida. Photo Credit: Marc Averette.

Going into week eight of the 2016 NFL season, the Raiders are 5-2 and the Buccaneers are 3-3.

Over the years, the Oakland Raiders have a 6-2 record against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in regular NFL season play.

The two American football teams will face off on Sunday 30 October at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

Do the Raiders hold a grudge? Surely following that devastating  Super Bowl loss in 2003, the Boys in Black will be out for blood.

Here is an Oakland Raiders fan’s complete travel guide to Tampa Bay.

Where to Stay in Tampa Bay


Hilton Tampa Airport Westshore hotel is within walking distance of Ryamond James Stadium.

Raymond James Stadium is home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League and the South Florida Bulls of the NCAA.

The following 10 hotels and motels are within a 35 minute walk of Raymond James Stadium.

The hotels are listed according to their approximate walking distance to the stadium.

Distances are computer-generated so they might vary slightly from the actual route football fans would take on their way to the football stadium.

  1. Econo Lodge Airport at RJ Stadium – 11 minute walk from Raymond James Stadium. Click here for room rates and more information.
  2. Howard Johnson Tampa Airport/Stadium – 20 minute walk from Raymond James Stadium. Click here for room rates and more information.
  3. Tampa Stadium Airport Hotel – 23 minute walk from Raymond James Stadium. Click here for room rates and more information.
  4. Residence Inn by Marriott Tampa Westshore/Airport – 24 minute walk from Raymond James Stadium. Click here for room rates and more information.
  5. Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel – 24 minute walk from Raymond James Stadium. Click here for room rates and more information.
  6. Hilton Tampa Airport Westshore – 26 minute walk from Raymond James Stadium.
  7. Fairfield Inn and Suites Tampa Westshore Airport – 26 minute walk from Raymond James Stadium.
  8. Extended Stay America Tampa Airport – Spruce Street – 29 minute walk from Raymond James Stadium. Click here for room rates and more information.
  9. Courtyard by Marriott Tampa Westshore – 29 minute walk from Raymond James Stadium. Click here for room rates and more information.
  10. La Quinta Inn Tampa Bay Airport – 31 minute walk from Raymond James Stadium. Click here for room rates and more information.

Top 10 Tampa Bay Tourist Attractions


Pirate Water Taxis are popular with tourists in Tampa Bay, Florida.

If you’re planning on attending a football game in Tampa Bay, why not spend a few days and take in some of the many sights?

Tampa Bay has a laid-back vibe and a booming arts scene. There are fabulous restaurants, great beaches, and activities for both families and adventure seekers.

Here are a few of the top things to see and do in Tampa Bay …

  1. Bush Gardens – interact with nature, enjoy live entertainment, and test your courage on world class roller coasters and other thrilling rides.
  2. Adventure Park – make a splash in one of Florida’s top water parks.
  3. Florida Aquarium – explore the mysteries of the Deep Blue Sea at one of the best aquariums in the United States.
  4. Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo – touch the stingrays, feed the giraffes, interact with giant tortoises, and pet the farm animals at this interactive zoo.
  5. Clearwater Marine Aquarium – be inspired by this hospital for sick and injured sea life.
  6. Museum of Science and Industry – see and do amazing things at one of Florida’s most interesting – and interactive – museums.
  7. Legoland Florida Resort – have a blast with the kids on the thrilling rides, fascinating attractions, and entertaining shows at this Lego-themed theme park.
  8. Beaches – catch some rays at one of Tampa Bay’s best beaches. Top picks: Clearwater Beach, Fort De Soto Park, Honeymoon Island State Park, and Caladesi Island State Park.
  9. SkySurfing – go sky surfing over the skies of some of the best beaches in the United States.
  10. Florida Jet Fighter Pilot Experience – this is gonna cost you, but if you’ve got deep enough pockets – and a penchant for adventure, why not fly a fighter jet in the sunny skies of the Sunshine State?

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Where to Eat in Tampa Bay


Eddie V’s Prime Dining is popular with diners on TripAdvisor.

From fine dining to cheap eats, Italian to  Chinese, steaks to pizza won’t go hungry in Tampa Bay.

The region’s restaurants are especially strong when it comes to seafood and Spanish cuisine.

If You Are Flying to Tampa Bay …

Tampa Bay has two international airports: Tampa Bay International Airport and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport.

Tampa Bay International Airport is by far the larger of the two airports. The airport is served by more than 20 airlines.

There is daily service to numerous travel destinations in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

The airport is a hub for Silver Airways and a focus city for Southwest Airlines, which operates about 85 daily flights at the airport.

St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport is used primarily by low-cost airlines. The dominant air carrier at the airport is Allegiant, which flies to numerous travel destinations throughout the United States.

Sun Country flies to Gulfport/Biloxi, Mississippi, and Sunwings operates a limited service to two cities in Canada.

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