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Practice facility plans still moving forward

By ERNEST HOOPER, RICK STROUD and ROGER MILLS

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 21, 2000


TAMPA -- Tampa Sports Authority officials should receive tentative plans from the Bucs for a new practice facility within the next two months.

If all goes as planned, construction will begin in 2001, shortly after Super Bowl XXXV in January, and be completed in summer 2002.

That would be nearly six years after the initial plans were introduced.

The portion of the 1996 half-cent sales tax increase set aside for Raymond James Stadium included a $12-million provision for a facility that would provide office space for employees, and weight rooms, locker rooms and practice fields.

Because the facility is being built on sports authority property and with tax dollars, it has to go through the Florida statute guidelines.

The authority took applicants from design/builders this year and has narrowed the list to four companies.

"The next step in this process is where it got bogged down," authority executive director Henry Saavedra said. "We're suppose to present these four bidders with what is called a design-criteria package. At this point, the Bucs are still working with our engineers (local firm Wade Trim) to develop what they want in that design-criteria package, and that's where it's gotten stalemated.

"We're hoping that within the next two months we can all agree on what's going to be in that design-criteria package."

Bucs officials said progress is being made. "Like most of our important projects, we want to make sure we do it right the first time," director of communications Reggie Roberts said.

The plans reportedly have been redrawn several times. Saavedra said he understands that the facility will cost more than $12-million. The Bucs will make up any difference.

COLEMAN TALKS: Guard Cosey Coleman is still not under contract, but he is under the supervision of coaches.

Coleman, the Bucs' second-round draft choice from Tennessee and the only unsigned pick, agreed Wednesday to report to the rookie pre-camp workout.

Team officials expect to have an agreement on a four-year deal by the end of the week.

"He wasn't going to come, but we talked to him and explained that this is the way we've always done it in the past," coach Tony Dungy said. "It's no different than it was for Warrick Dunn or Mike Alstott. Once he understood that, he wanted to be there."

TICKETS ON SALE: Preseason single-game tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday. The limit is eight per person. They can be purchased through Ticketmaster at outlets, by telephone and on the Internet.

Tickets will not be sold at the Bucs ticket office or Raymond James Stadium.

To order by phone from Ticketmaster, call: (813) 287-8844 in Hillsborough, (727) 898-2100 in Pinellas, (407) 839-3900 in Central Florida and (904) 353-3309 in North Florida.

To order online: http://www.ticketmaster.com.

Single-game tickets for the regular season go on sale in August.

ODOM'S THE MAN: After playing only three games last season because of a severe lower back injury, Jason Odom enters training camp as the starting left tackle.

Dungy said Odom will replace veteran Paul Gruber, who is recovering from a broken right leg sustained during last season's final regular-season game.

"(Odom has) not had any pain, any problems with any of the things that we've done," Dungy said. "We have not put the pads on, we haven't hit, that kind of thing, but, hopefully, it will continue on through that. But he's very encouraged."

Gruber's situation is not as encouraging.

"Paul is rehabing and trying to get himself in the position where we can have an estimate of when he's going to be ready to play," Dungy said. "When that's going to be? We're not sure. ... It's one of those things where we're just going to have to wait and see."

SHIP TO STAY: The 103-foot-long pirate ship in Buccaneer Cove, just behind the northern end zone seats at Raymond James Stadium, will not be moved for Super Bowl XXXV. Rumor had the ship being moved out of the stadium to create extra seats for the game.

In other stadium news, the sports authority announced that patrons no longer will be allowed to leave and re-enter the stadium during games unless there is a medical emergency. Spokeswoman Barbara Casey said the policy was implemented to answer ticketing and security concerns.

GETTING THEIR KICKS: Kicker Martin Gramatica and Mutiny midfielder Carlos Valderrama will take part in a soccer kickoff challenge at 11 a.m. today at Raymond James Stadium.

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