Game pass: Building the Super Bowl stadium in Florida

CSI board of directors treasurer William “Chip” Hayward, CSI, CCCA, helped build the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida, especially the iconic “Pirate Ship.”
CSI board of directors treasurer William “Chip” Hayward, CSI, CCCA, helps build the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida. 

CSI board of directors treasurer William “Chip” Hayward, CSI, CCCA, had a direct role in building the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida, especially the iconic “Pirate Ship” with replica cannons that fire every time the home team scores.

One of the world’s biggest standalone sporting events, the Super Bowl, took place on Sunday, February 7, at the Raymond James Stadium. For the first time in the history of the event, the home team played in the big game as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers successfully took on the Kansas City Chiefs.

Chip got involved with the stadium when the Buccaneers were looking for an owner’s representative and project manager/architect for construction of the stadium and their special projects. Since Chip had worked on a number of stadium projects previously, he was a suitable candidate. Chip ended up working for the team almost nine years, including collaborating on the stadium, video boards, audio-visual (AV) control room, the suite expansion, and the training facility.

Chip said some of the key hurdles were a fixed budget and constrained schedules. Time was of the essence from the beginning of the project. There were many stakeholders, including the county, the sports authority, the City of Tampa, and the Buccaneers, each with a special interest. There was a scoping and programming meeting that everyone participated in at the inception of the project, and it was important for the team to maximize revenue opportunities. Tampa was a primary site for Super Bowls and the stadium needed to be game ready; able to accommodate the venue with little effort and modification, so this was a primary goal of the sports authority. The stadium needed to be flexible to accommodate soccer games, concerts, and would also be the home field for the USF Bulls Football Team.

The Pirate Ship idea originated from one of the team’s icons/logos, which is derived in part based on the annual Gasparilla Festival held in Tampa in February. One of the Buccaneer’s marketing person’s sons had a toy pirate ship and he took the idea of building a 3D pirate ship to the glazers and using this to sell the stadium naming rights, Chip said.

“The glazers asked me how to implement this in a short period of time (seven months), so we set about contracting with a design builder (Nassal) that did a lot of specialty-themed work for Disney and Universal to create a small pirate ship,” Chip said.

“As the owner’s representative and project manager/architect, I was able to provide a lot of input into the design and setting for the ship. The dock, lighted eyes, smoking mouth, village setting, and [Americans with Disabilities Act] ADA lift (hidden by the shipping crates on the dock) were some of my recommendations,” Chip said.

The ship also had to be designed to be removable through the seating bowl tunnels (near the end zone) since the flat portions of the deck were required to be used for temporary grandstand seating; fortunately they did not have to remove the ship. The ship is built with a steel sub-frame that can be unbolted and separated into smaller pieces so it could be lifted and transported through the tunnels near the end zone; a crane at the end zone outside of the stadium was not an option.

The stadium construction sequence had to be accelerated on the South End Zone, so the project team could keep the North End Zone available for the ship construction and super structure improvements to accommodate the wind loads of the masts and the sails, as well as the concession power, water and drain connections for portable kiosks added to the village areas. This process took some negotiations with the construction manager to alleviate any concern with the construction crews delaying each other.

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