The Hartford/New Haven market is the largest television market in the United States without a major league sports team, so it should come as no surprise that over the years our capital city has been on the radar for sports investors and team owners.
The state’s efforts to woo a major league team to Connecticut over the years are fairly well documented. We’ve all heard of the machinations by Governor Lowell Weicker to pursue the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots in 1994, and Governor John Rowland’s deal with the Patriots in 1998, but do you remember the time the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were interested in Hartford? Really.
It was back in December of 1995, when my assignment was to report the news that Hartford was once again a potential NFL city. The Buccaneers were unhappy with their stadium deal in Tampa (sound familiar?) so the owners of the team known for their swashbuckling pirate logo and creamsicle and tangerine colored uniforms came to Connecticut to sniff out the turf.
In the archival report in the link below, you’ll hear how the news was reported in Florida and how the team’s president came to Hartford for a secret meeting with Hartford Mayor Mike Peters, Governor Rowland and other state officials.
Spoiler alert: the Buccaneers didn’t move here.
I actually went to a couple of Bucs games in Tampa in the 1990s. Here I am (albeit 20 pounds lighter) with two of my friends tailgating with a vintage Buccaneer bobblehead. That thing would be worth a fortune now. Much more kitschy than the current logo.
Watch the Buccaneers report right here: http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=10598502
Also read about the Patriots and Hartford right here: https://dennishouse.tv/2012/02/09/face-the-state-flashback-patriots-announce-move-to-hartford/
and the Rams and Hartford here: https://dennishouse.tv/2011/10/27/flashback-the-connecticut-rams/