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    Bucs may open office at Raymond James

    A team official said there are no immediate plans for the 5,000-square-foot site.

    By DAVID KARP, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published November 13, 2002

    TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may open an office at Raymond James Stadium, stadium officials said Tuesday.

    "It is actually a good thing," said Henry Saavedra, executive director of the Tampa Sports Authority. "We are getting the Bucs to pay more money."

    A Bucs spokesman said the team did not know how they would use the area.

    "We have no current plans for the office space, but it is certainly something we want to use in the future," Bucs communications manager Jeff Kamis said.

    Saavedra said he was told the Bucs would open an office to sell tickets, show luxury suites and sell advertising.

    "I don't care what they do with it," Saavedra said, "as long as they pay me the rent."

    If the Hillsborough County Commission and the Tampa City Council both approve the deal, the Bucs will occupy about 5,000 square feet on the ground floor, space once used by the Tampa Bay Mutiny, the defunct soccer team. The team will pay about $22 per square foot on roughly 2,000 square feet. Under the 1996 deal that led to the construction of the stadium, the Bucs are entitled to 3,000 feet of free office space in the stadium.

    The rent will increase every three years, depending on inflation, for the life of the long-term lease, Saavedra said.

    "We are getting a competitive, fair market rate," he said.

    The authority offered the Bucs first right to the office space -- giving no other businesses or teams an opportunity to lease the space for more money.

    Authority lawyers reviewed the no-bid arrangement and considered it fair, Saavedra said. It makes sense to offer the space first to the Bucs because they are the stadium's main tenant, he said.

    The University of South Florida Bulls also play at Raymond James Stadium, but USF associate athletic director Tom Veit said the university doesn't need the space.

    -- Times staff writers Pete Young and Roger Mills contributed to this report.

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