To paraphrase the Disney Chorus, from Pirates of the Caribbean, “yo ho, yo ho a pirate’s Jan. 2 for me.” And for everyone else who will be attending the Reliaquest Bowl, when #22 Mississippi State takes on Illinois in what was previously known as the Outback Bowl, and before that, the Hall of Fame.
Of all the bowl games that are traditionally played on New Year’s Day, this one in Tampa Bay is the very first to kick off, in the world’s only stadium that contains an entire pirate ship.
Reliaquest Bowl Illinois vs #22 Mississippi St. FYIs
Kickoff is Jan. 2, at noon ET on ESPN2. Betting with pin up casino? The latest spread has MSU -1.5, or -110 on the Money Line. The O/U is 45.5 with the Illini available at -105 ML
Early Game Preview/Matchup Analysis: go here
Illini Bowl Game History: go here
It is the home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after all, so it only makes sense a that a 103-foot (31 m), 43-ton steel-and-concrete replica pirate ship resides in the north end zone.
(The stadium public address system often plays that pirate song that we referenced in the opening during home games too)
It’s an extremely Florida kind of thing- recreating another time and space, a theme park feel everywhere you go. That’s very Tampa.
Every time the Bucs score points, enter the other red zone, or win, the replica cannons from the ship are fired. The cannons fire once for each point scored. The cannons are also used during pre-game player introductions.
It also has an animated parrot residing on the stern. Manipulated by remote control, the parrot sometimes talks to those passing by. The pirate ship sails, which are most often brandishing the Buccaneers logo and propaganda, often changes for the event that it is hosting. Which brings us to our Ray Jay pirate ship idea.
See the screen shot of my Instagram story below:
As one of the Buccaneers slogans and hash tags is “raise the flags,” that’s what the winner of the Reliaquest Bowl (and of course its J.V. game, the Gasparilla Bowl too) should get to do.
Start with the flag of both teams flying above the two lower sails, to start the game. Then when the final score is set, and the clock turns to 0, lower them, and raise the winner’s flag atop the main sail.
Let’s make this happen, Reliaquest Bowl.
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Sports Bank. He’s also the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
He’s written for numerous publications, including the New York Daily News, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune. He regularly appears on NTD News and WGN News Now. Follow the website on Twitter and Instagram.