You can sense the difference, you can read the difference. Come September, you'll be able to see the difference. Lovie Smith has invigorated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan base once again.
The economy has helped, there were actual sell outs this year, not that it matters as the Glazers have agreed to show every Bucs game. But there IS a difference when the stadium is sold out and filled; full of Bucs fans no less.
Starting with the playoff game in 2007 against the NY Giants, Bucs fans have gotten used to seeing the opposing team's fans in the stands again, something that was prevalent in the Bucs not so glory days of the 80s when the parking lot would look like Lambeau Field or Soldier Field when the Packers or Bears came to town.
But when the Bucs were taken over by the Glazers in 1995 and convinced taxpayers to fund a new stadium, the new season ticket base swelled to an actual waiting list. This prevented other teams fans from buying tickets like they used to. The result was a stadium full of Pewter and Red.
But it wasnt always so…In Tony Dungy's first year, the stadium was still empty. Even the first game vs the 49ers in 1997 was still a little empty. The Bucs were playing the last year at the old Tampa Stadium, Raymond James would not be finished until the 1998 season.
Tony Dungy would say he came out of the tunnel and looked at the corners. Week 4 of 1997 season, the Bucs were 3-0 and facing the Miami Dolphins on national television. The TBS telecast showed off to the nation Pewter Power, and until 2007, thats what a Bucs game looked like. (Photos= Upper Left 1996 wk 4 Bucs 0-3/ Lower Right 1997 wk 4 Bucs 3-0)
Its the offseason now though, so its hard to measure, but you can read the comments on all the different websites and you read full on support for Lovie Smith. The division seems to be gone. The apathy too. Fans on every site are supporting the Bucs and Lovie smith once again, and you can expect an excited fan base in 2014.