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Fans, historians look back on Tampa Bay sports history in wake of Bucs' Super Bowl bid

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Posted at 8:50 PM, Jan 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-26 03:14:35-05

TAMPA, Fla. — With the Bucs trying to make a run for the Lombardi Trophy, we can’t forget the last time the team won the big game.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took home their first Super Bowl title at the end of the 2002 season. In the nearly 20 years since, the Tampa Bay area has changed quite a bit.

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“If we go back to when the Tampa franchise first comes here in 1976, the Bucs were seen as a vehicle to give Tampa a national name,” said Brad Massey, the Saunders Foundation Curator of Public History at the Tampa Bay History Center. “A lot of people didn’t think about Tampa when they thought about Florida. A lot of Americans couldn’t find it on the map.”

Massey explains that Tampa was changing in the early 2000s, and many people were talking about redeveloping the downtown area, particularly the waterfront. That area has since transformed and is set to host a Super Bowl experience along the Riverwalk in the coming days.

RELATED: Free Super Bowl Experience opens Jan. 29 on Tampa's Riverwalk

“I think their recent success really talks to this ‘coming of age’ in this city in the last roughly 50 years,” said Massey.

On February 7, the Buccaneers with take on the Kansas City Chiefs at Raymond James, with the Bucs making home field Super Bowl history.

“It is awesome to think that they’re going to play in our hometown’s fifth Super Bowl, and the first time in 55 years, a home team is going to play when their community hosts,” said Rob Higgins, the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV host committee president and CEO.

Undoubtedly, it’s been a season of excitement for Tampa Bay sports fans, giving a new meaning to the term “Titletown.”

“Literally every professional franchise here, from the Bucs to the Lightning to the Rowdies to the Rays, every single one of them has made their most recent championship game,” said Higgins. “It just shows Team Tampa Bay is on fire. We love to be top of mind across the country, and it’s just so great to see these franchises make it to the pinnacle of their sports.”

While on the backdrop of a global pandemic, the Bucs are giving fans in the Tampa Bay area a reason to come together once again.

“To see just the passion and enthusiasm around this Bucs’ playoff run and how it’s uplifting a lot of spirits and our entire community is galvanizing to support them, it’s truly special,” said Higgins.