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Game Pass: Chip Hayward Talks About Building the Super Bowl Stadium in Tampa Bay

By Peter Kray posted 02-02-2021 10:05 AM


The world’s biggest standalone sporting event will take place Sunday, February 7, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida. For the first time in the history of the event, the home team will play in the big game as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the Kansas City Chiefs.


CSI Board of Directors Treasurer William “Chip” Hayward, CSI, CCCA, had a direct role in building the stadium, especially the iconic “Pirate Ship,” with replica cannons that fire every time the home team scores. Here, Chip shares how he came to work with the team, how he came to possess a Super Bowl Ring, and where he will watch the big game this weekend.


How did you get involved with the Buccaneers?

The Buccaneers were looking for an Owner’s representative and Project Manager/Architect for construction of the Stadium and their special projects; one of my contacts knew the Glazers (the Tampa Bay Buccaneers owners) and inquired about the possible position. Since I had worked on a number of stadium projects, including the NY Yankees Spring Training Facility in Tampa, I was a perfect fit. I ended up working for the Team almost nine years, including work on the Stadium, Video Boards, AV Control Room, the Suite Expansion, and the Training Facility.


What were some of the key goals and hurdles in building a new stadium?

There was a fixed budget and the scheduled was constrained; we had to open as planned with no flexibility. Time was of the essence from the beginning of the project. There were many stakeholders, including the County, The Sports Authority, The City of Tampa, and the Buccaneers, each with a special interest. There was a scoping and programming meeting that everyone participated in at the inception of the project, and it was important for the team to maximize revenue opportunities. Tampa was a primary site for Super Bowls and the stadium needed to be game ready; able to accommodate the venue with little effort and modification, so this was a primary goal of the Sports Authority. The Stadium needed to be flexible to accommodate soccer games, concerts, and would also be the home field for the USF Bulls Football Team.


What are your favorite memories and sense of pride in working on something so many people continue to enjoy?

For me it was getting to the finish line; getting the stadium open for the first game, that involved a lot of hard work, long working hours, and the entire project team striving for a common goal.


Where did the idea for the Raymond James Pirate Ship originate, and how did you incorporate it into the existing plans?

The Pirate Ship was one of the team’s icons/logos, which is derived in part based on the annual Gasparilla Festival held in Tampa, in February. One of the Buccaneer’s marketing folk’s son had a toy pirate ship and took the idea of building a 3D pirate ship to the Glazers and using this to sell the stadium naming rights. The Glazers asked me how to implement this in a short period of time (seven months), so we set about contracting with a Design Builder (Nassal) that did a lot of specialty-themed work for Disney and Universal to create a small pirate ship. As the Owner’s Rep & PM/Architect, I was able to provide a lot of input into the design and setting for the ship. The dock, lighted eyes, smoking mouth, village setting, and ADA lift (hidden by the shipping crates on the dock) were some of my recommendations. We also had to design the ship to be removable through the seating bowl tunnels (near the end zone), since the flat portions of the deck were required to be used for temporary grandstand seating; fortunately we did not have to remove the ship. The ship is built with a steel sub-frame that can be unbolted and separated in to smaller pieces so it could be lifted and transported through the tunnels near the end zone; a crane at the end zone outside of the stadium was not an option.


The stadium construction sequence had to be accelerated on the South End Zone, so we could keep the North End Zone available for the ship construction and super structure improvements to accommodate the wind loads of the masts and the sails, as well as the concession power, water and drain connections for portable kiosks added to the village areas. This process took some negotiations with the Construction Manager to alleviate any concern with the construction crews delaying each other. The Pirate Ship Contractor worked from 3:30 PM till 5:00 AM, then collapsed their work area to allow the stadium crews to work during the day.


What are your favorite memories of building such a unique feature?

The Ship was a specialty project that was implemented by the team, and it has become an iconic feature of the stadium. I was very proud of the fact that we were able to overcome some major hurdles and find a way to get the Ship built with minimal impact to the Stadium Construction. I am an avid sailor, and I always joked that I wanted to be a naval architect and design ships, and I finally got to work on a ship, however it never left dry dock.


How has this informed other projects in your career?

It is always a conversation piece, and it certainly is a project that I am proud to have been a part of. I have been working for Michael Baker International now for over 11 years, as a Senior Architect/Senior Associate and primarily focused on Aviation and Transportation projects. Many of the projects that I have worked on in my career have similar complexities, as well as time and budget constraints, and there is always a real sense of accomplishment to see something imagined become an actual building or structure.


How did you end up getting a Super Bowl Ring, and where do you keep it now?

It is under lock and key in an undisclosed location; I only take it out for Super Bowl Game day. I think I am the only architect in the country that has a Super Bowl Ring; the Team was appreciative of what I was able to do for them, and even though I was not an employee they gave me a ring.  When the Bucs went to San Diego for the big game they chartered a flight and allowed each of the staff and some consultants to take a guest to the game; I got to take my Dad to the game on his 70th Birthday, so that was a super special day.


Where will you watch this year’s game?

Although the game is being hosted in Tampa Bay, I will be social distancing and watching the game at home. Not quite as thrilling, but great to see Tampa returning to the big game at home. This is really special for Tampa Bay, since the Lightning won the Stanley Cup, and the Rays were in the World Series. 


Who do you think will win the game?

Tampa Bay. It’s our destiny!


Where did you get your architectural degree?

I got my bachelor’s and Master’s Degree from Georgia Tech; I am a Ramblin Wreck-Yellow Jacket! 


Did you ever play football?

I played in high school (Marine Military Academy), second String QB and Special Teams; my Football Coach (Coach Morten) was a great inspiration but never would have expected me to get a Super Bowl Ring.


What other Sports Venues have you worked on?

North Charleston, SC -Coliseum, Tropicana Field Expansion (TB Rays), NY Yankees-Spring Training Facility-Tampa, Ocala-Yankees Minor League Sports Plex and Stadium, and of course many projects for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.




The time has come for the Bucs!!! Thank you for your contributions and your hard work.  I would love to see a pic of you on Sunday with your "Super Bowl RING"!

02-04-2021 05:57 PM

This was fun and totally impressive reading about Chip and the Stadium.  I am still so grateful to you and the Tampa Bay Chapter for the recordings and mock exam that helped me study and pass my CDT!  They were invaluable.  That was in 2017 when I was glued to the news from California hoping Irma would stay far away from Tampa.  Go Bucs for sure!
Are you sure that wasn't your twin brother?
Great Article Chip!  Hope the NFL let's us FIRE THE CANNONS!