Fans of the 2014 NFL on the field with a solid draft and many top free agents, but also will be able to enjoy the results of a $7 million project to renovate the main concourse concession locations and four new beverage stands at Raymond James Stadium. Costs of the improvements are being shared by the team and by Aramark, its food and beverage concessionaire.
“We’re excited about being able to showcase our new food and beverage locations to all our fans when we open up for our first home preseason game on August 16 against the Miami Dolphins,” says Tampa Bay Buccaneers COO Brian Ford.
“This major project will improve the quality and efficiency of our food preparation for our fans,” Ford says. “We pride ourselves on providing our guests with a first-in-class experience at our games. These concessions and new beverage locations will allow us to offer fresh, new food offerings as well as improve the overall fan experience.”
Carl Mittleman, president of Aramark Sports & Entertainment also is looking forward to being able to provide some exciting new improvements.
“These concessions improvements are part of our commitment to delivering world-class customer service and unique dining experiences that further enrich the game day experience for fans at Raymond James Stadium,” said Mittleman. “The new upgrades and menu enhancements will allow us to better meet the needs of customers as well as to ensure that Buccaneer fans continue to enjoy some of the best food offerings in the country.”
Dave Wagner of Wagner Murray Architects, Charlotte, N.C., is in charge of overseeing the project. Wagner handled the interior design for Raymond James Stadium as well as the team’s critically acclaimed state-of-the-art training facility, One Buccaneer Place, which opened in 2008. President and Head Designer of Wagner Murray Architects, Wagner has extensive experience in NFL facilities design for the Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers, among others.
“As designers, we are essentially tapping into industry trends and best practices within the NFL and other sports and entertainment facilities,” Wagner says. “The Buccaneers are bringing a gourmet food experience to Raymond James Stadium, which will raise the bar not only within the stadium but also on a nationally recognized basis. The Aramark culinary team intends to bring inspired and inventive food options for the fans through the stadium.
“The rationale is to create a distinct in-house brand with unique and specific names to insure a fan affinity without compromising product or quality. The concessions present a wide array of colors, materials and designs and are themed to the Buccaneers football experience. Some reference Tampa’s Ybor City historic district, along with festive colors and graphics to upgrade the main concourses into a ‘food court style’ experience.”
As part of the project, the team is replacing the existing 14 concessions stands with new, state-of-the-art locations that will feature all-new food preparation equipment as well as a fresh, new look. The east and west main concourses each will feature food stands aptly named Pizza Plank, The Taste of Tampa, The Galley, DeSoto Deli, Bay Burger, The Chicken Coup and Red Sail –Tampa’s Hot N’ Spicy Kitchen. In addition, four new Swashbuckler Bar beverage stations will go up in each corner of the stadium, where fans will be able to choose from a wide variety of craft beer and wine offerings, as well as frozen drink options.
Ford detailed the project, which is part of an overall plan to improve things both on and off the field.
“We brought Aramark in as our concessionaire and retail partner last March, so they’ve had an opportunity to come in and get a good working knowledge of how best to service our fan base.” Ford says. “They had prior experience on the outside as an earlier provider when they acquired our then concessionaire Fine Host back in 2000-2002. A lot of that prior and more recent experience went into the new design. Planning began as soon as they came aboard.
“Together we did surveys of our fans for our football games and other events that resulted in good ideas for new presentation and menus. There will be four new Swashbuckler Bars, developed from a need for more service points-of-sale (POS), while the other locations are basically a redesign. The 14 stands have new names and menus, and are bigger and more serviceable with storage and preparation. We’ve enhanced offerings and presentation, with more fresh products in each location. The key is offering good quality, fairly priced items with speed of service that will get fans back in their seats as soon as possible.”
Aramark District Manager Rich Johns, who oversees the stadium operations, explained the process involved in creating the changes.
“We saw the diversity of the Bucs’ fan base and wanted to give them as many different options as possible to tingle the taste buds,” Johns says. “The Tampa Bay area names are designed to connect the new outlets to the team itself, through colors, signage and history. The new Swashbuckler Bars offer an avenue to showcase different premium craft beers, a variety of domestic and imported wines, and frozen drinks in a variety of appetizing flavors, pre-made for speed of service.”
This year’s initial concessions upgrade will be followed by extensive main concourse upgrades prior to the 2015 season. These will include new graphics, wayfinding, directional signage, advertising opportunities and other amenities within the main concourses.”
Written By Steve Trainman For Destination Tampa Bay magazine
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