Former Seahawks president takes mild slap at Bucs


We’ll press pause on the whole mediation/litigation/constipation thing by delving into what could become a mildly interesting media tiff between the guy who used to run the Seahawks, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Tod Leiweke, the former Seahawks president whose brother, Tim, is trying to bring the NFL back to L.A., currently runs the Tampa Bay Lightning of the NHL.  Per the folks at, Tod Leiweke recently addressed during a radio interview the widely-held notion that the Buccaneers (and the MLB’s Rays) can’t fill their stadiums due to local economic conditions.

Tod Leiweke isn’t buying the “bad economy” line.  He said that the St. Pete Times Forum was sold out on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday for Lady Gaga, Iron Maiden, and Lightning hockey, respectively.

“We’re the fifth or sixth busiest arena in the country,” Tod Leiweke said, adding that placing the blame on fans and market conditions is “the first exit on the highway of excuses.”

He also pointed out that, when he joined the Seahawks in 2003, the Seahawks had a season-ticket base of “about 33,000.”  Seven years later — and during much worse national economic conditions — the Seahawks had 61,000 season-ticket holders and a waiting list of 10,000.

Though it’s not a full-blown franchise cat fight yet, whether it moves in that direction will depend on the manner in which the Buccaneers (or the Rays) respond.  And the Bucs almost have no choice but to respond, given that they have been riding the “bad economy” horse to justify the wide patches of empty seats at Raymond James Stadium in 2009 and 2010.

26 responses to “Former Seahawks president takes mild slap at Bucs

  1. I just went to Tampa for Spring Training and it only confirmed a notion I had, the majority of fans from Tampa are transplants from the northeast. I bet you they sell out when teams from New York, Philly, and Boston play there.

  2. This guy is right. The economy is bad everywhere and no one has attendance nearly as bad as the Bucs. And they have an exciting young team. It’s shameful. Hockey in Tampa draws better for cryin out loud! Glazer’s need to look in the mirror.

  3. Well…he sure as hell looks like the attendence a Lady Gaga or Iron Maiden concert would bring in……Apples and Oranges….They come once or twice a year….Hello..

  4. There’s no doubt that the Glazer’s financial troubles and putting together a team “on the cheap” has turned off the fans.

    There is a real tangible trend in sports where cheap/incompetent/uncaring ownership shows up in the attendance. Fans are smarter about the team PR and the internet has pulled away the veil of secrecy teams used to hide behind.

  5. He is right. It’s the high ticket prices. Bucs have raised ticket prices 70 percent since 2003. When u don’t win, people arent willing to pay. Look at where the empty seats are at. Almost every game last year the upper corners were full. Those seat prices were dropped way down for 2010 season. It just proves people want to go, but don’t want to drop 99 dollars a ticket plus Tampa sports authority charge. Of course winning helps

  6. The franchise has too long of a losing history for fans to trust the product. If they actually get some W’s in the playoffs, the stadium will fill. In the Warren Sapp/Derek Brooks heyday I don’t recall there being an issue with fan support for the Bucs.

  7. I dont think it is fair to bring the Rays into this discussion. The Lightning benefit greatly from location in that people can go straight from work to a game, and if they need to they can get to pretty much all of the residential areas fairly quickly. The Rays on the other hand are 30 min from downtown and 45 min or more from some of the major residential areas with the type of disposable income that is necissary to go to games (North Tampa in particular). There are about 1/20th the number of people within a 30 min commute for the Rays compared to a team like the Yankees, and most of the people living around the stadium are low income families who dont have the money to go to the games in any economy.

    This doesnt answer for the Bucs problems, but I think the Rays would be a lot more successful if they played in the Tampa area.

    I actually think one of the problems with the Bucs is the lack of fan friendlyness. Getting in and out of that stadium is a pain, and for the most part the experience in the game is one of shuffled confusion. Add in the brutal heat (The NFL seems to love giving the Bucs 115 games) and I would rather stay home and watch on TV. The SPT forum on the other hand goes out of their way to be fan friendly.

  8. I wonder how Rays fans feel about this guy actively trying to get another hometown team shipped 3000 miles away to help out his bro.

  9. The economy was always a terrible excuse. I live in FL and I have found that in general, fans in Jax, Tampa, Orlando, and even Miami are the worst fair-weather fans. In 2009 the Bucs were one of the worst teams in the league, and in 2010 they were picked to go winless. It’s hard to get the fair-weather fans excited about that.
    The Lightning have a great thing going right now with a few of the most exciting young players in the NHL. There is no comparison – yet. However, Josh Freeman is the Bucs “Stamkos /Longoria/Dwight Howard” type but it will take a year or too for anybody to notice.

  10. Tampa also had a 10.000+ waiting list a few years back. Those disappear faster then lightning when called to be offered a $8.000 psl…

    But sure the Bucs have made mistakes. The’ve alienated much of their fanbase. And need some postive actions across the board. Lowering drink prices for one.

  11. No…dont blame it on the Glazer’s, according to the people on the site all NFL related problems are the players fault.

  12. jw731 says:
    Apr 19, 2011 10:23 AM
    Well…he sure as hell looks like the attendence a Lady Gaga or Iron Maiden concert would
    Apples and Oranges….They come once or twice a year….Hello..

    Kinda like ur sex life

  13. duane,

    Your post may be sarcasm, but its actually true.

    As player costs rise (salaries, health benefits and other expenses directly related to the players) some of that money comes from tickets sales.

    The owners aren’t going to delve into their pockets.

    Would you? Answered your own comment.

  14. “Though it’s not a full-blown franchise cat fight yet…the Bucs almost have no choice but to respond”

    Really? Are you sure about that? If I’m the Bucs, I’m not saying anything. One man makes a fairly implicit comment and now an entire NFL franchise has to freak out? Sounds like PFT’s fishing to me…

  15. What’s Tod Liewieke’s motive here by getting in a pissing match with exectuives from Tampa? The article says he’s the former tema president in Seattle— Is he looking for work?

  16. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Leiweke’s lying when he says that Gaga and Maiden were sold out. The St Pete Times Forum was flogging tickets for both shows right up until day of. Attendance at Iron Maiden was 12K, far below capacity.

  17. I agree, if it weren’t at the point where you have to pay $200 to take a friend to a football game, for three hours plus pay $6-8 per beer, plus cost of driving/flying whatever else you have to do, I might make the trip from Idaho to catch an NFL game…my team resides in north Carolina, so it’s hard to think I’ll ever see one in person..

  18. HDTV has brought the skybox experience to the living room. Who wants to go pay for a ticket to bake in the sun and get raped at the concessions stand? The live hockey experience is not as easily captured via TV.

    Also, Gruden ticked off a lot of people, and Morriss’ swagger alienated a lot of fans already on the brink. It takes to time to rebuild a bad image. The Rays still fight that battle too.

  19. @techstar25 …

    You live in Fla. … or you’re from Fla.? I doubt you know anything about native fans because you’d have to start by FINDING SOME.

    Most of the people in my state are transplants from other areas who brought their team allegiances with them. And college football owned the South for generations before anyone thought about bringing a pro team here. You want to find loyal fans? Show up at a UF game come boiling heat or hurricane. The stands will be full.

    I was born into a Tide household because Daddy is from Ala., and the Steelers have had my loyalty since Tampa was wearing peach and couldn’t figure out what a down marker was. Miami is so far from my Fla., it might as well be New York.

    There’s nothing fair-weather about my fandom, but I don’t owe anything to the NFL’s expansion schemes.

  20. I never bought the Recession excuse. Tampa and the surrounding area has plenty of people to buy tickets. The team has just lost a lot of fans over the last few seasons.

    and for those that think that FL has 0 natives from the area, that is just dumb. 40 years ago you could say that, but those people had kids eventually… and considering that Hillsborough county and the surrounding area contains over 3 Million people.. You would think they could find 65K (2%) to buy a ticket to just 8 games…

    It Started with the media and Internet making stories up about the Glazers being too broke to spend money and build a team. The previous years the bucs were over the cap brought on by crappy GMing. Allen had to try and fix that and that meant cutting huge salary guys and drafting players, not buying them via free agency.

    The last 2 off seasons were great for me as a Bucs fan. we lost Brooks but we made moves for YOUNG players in FA and Trades not to mention we had a damn good draft, and rumors had it that we had a bid for Haynesworth worth over 100M (not worth it, but the offer was there). Last off season we had another great draft, and found some helping hands out of FA, Sean Jones.

    Why people always try to blame the glazers I have no idea… it’s McKays fault for putting us in the red so deep that we had to purge our roster to recover from it.

  21. I know the Glazers are pretty frugal (and if you believe some reports, pretty cash strapped), but you’re going to compare those two areas, Tampa and Seattle? I mean seriously, if he’d like to believe the economies of those two areas are even remotely similar, he’s out of his mind.

    In addition, when he joined the Seahawks in 2003, I think they played in a pretty antiquated stadium with a team that hadn’t reached the height of their 2005 Super Bowl team either. That new stadium seems to have a better atmosphere and probably many of the late stadium projects’ bells and whistles to go with it.

    These days, the Cardinals sell their stadium out every week too since they’ve moved from that dump they used to play in, and I’d hardly call that organization good.

    People like to go to these new stadiums with all of the extra sideshows that concentrate the area. I’ve never been to Raymond James, but I’ve never heard friends that have gone to that stadium talk about it as a great destination either.

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