Just days ahead of the Bucs season opening game Sunday at home against the Tennessee Titans, 1,500 women gathered at Raymond James Stadium for the launch of RED, a new campaign aimed to “celebrate the female fan base.”
Attendees arrived to a tailgate party atmosphere in the West Club, with wine and beer sampling, food and Bucs gear. From garnering game-day style tips to experiencing the Bucs all-new virtual reality quarterback training technology, women visited several football-themed stations during Thursday night’s kickoff event.
“It’s been a dream of mine for so long,” said Glazer Family Foundation Co-President Darcie Glazer Kassewitz. “Tonight I’ve heard women say that they have been fans since the beginning and they’ve been waiting for a moment like this.”
While the night featured tips on “creative culinary creations,” tailgating, and sharing the fan experience on social media platforms, it also included gridiron lessons. Women took part in film analysis with Bucs General Manager Jason Licht, discussions with Bucs legends and a tutorial on Fantasy Football strategies.
Buccaneers fan Jordan Laughlin, who attended with a group of friends said her favorite aspect was the “insider’s talk” with Licht.
“I like understanding why he picked the players he did for the team,” she said. “I’m a corporate girl so I like hearing the theory behind the madness. I just think that this event is a very open way for women to get to know more about the players and the general manager.”
Iconic Buccaneers including Mike Alstott, Martin Gramatica, Jimmie Giles and Michael Clayton joined the event, sharing insight from their years in the NFL and a look ahead to the 2015 season.
“Now women can basically network with a bunch of other women who feel the same way about the game as you do,” said former Bucs cornerback Dwight Smith, who was in also in attendance.
However, all hasn’t been smooth with the roll-out of the program. When the Bucs announced the campaign in August, it stirred up controversy across the country.
“Embarrassingly sexist,” said a story on USA Today’s website, with many other online commenters calling the movement condescending and offensive.
Yet from the turnout on Thursday night it appears others think it’s a great idea.
“I enjoy things like this and I think it’s important to get others involved as well,” said Regan Davenport, who has been a season ticket holder since 1976. “Getting to talk to the former players in a very close setting and ask questions and just see how life is as a Buccaneer.”
While many women in attendance expressed they wanted to learn more about the X’s and O’s of the game, others were well-informed fans just looking for a fun time.
“Women in my family have always been passionate about football and sports,” said Tampa’s Amie Moore. “I think it’s great for women to get together, enjoy this together and show that we love it just as much as the men do.”
According to the Bucs, that was the goal of the RED launch party.
“It was very important to me to have an inclusive initiative,” said Kassewitz. “There are die-hard football fans here who plan their entire weekend around football and then we also have new fans who want to experience all different aspects of the game.”
Through RED, the Bucs want to provide all female fans with year-round educational experiences focused on providing a better understanding of the game, along with “unprecedented” access to the team.
For details and upcoming events, go to www.buccaneers.com/red.