(Reuters) – Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming home.
The Bucs survived a second-half resurgence from the Green Bay Packers on Sunday to win the NFC Championship and punch their ticket to the Super Bowl, where they will be the first team to contend for the Lombardi Trophy in their home stadium.
“We’re coming home and we’re coming home to win!” Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians announced on-air after the Bucs outlasted the Packers 31-26.
Super Bowl host cities are typically selected years in advance, with team owners voting for their favored bids, and Tampa was named Super Bowl 55’s host in 2017.
The closest an NFL team has come to playing the Super Bowl on their own turf before was 36 years ago, when the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Miami Dolphins 38-16 at Super Bowl XIX inside Stanford University’s Stanford Stadium in California.
With only 22,000 fans allowed inside the 65,618-capacity Raymond James Stadium and the usual bustling Super Bowl party scene largely canceled due to COVID-19, the celebration in Tampa will be comparatively tame.
But city officials and a grateful Bucs fan base on Sunday were already cheering for the possibility of Brady claiming his seventh Super Bowl ring in his new adopted hometown.
“FIRE THE CANNONS! Our @Buccaneers are coming HOME to play in Super Bowl LV!!!” the City of Tampa tweeted after Brady clinched a spot in his 10th Super Bowl, in his first year on the team after a two-decade-long tenure with the New England Patriots.
“What a year for Tampa sports,” wrote Tampa Bay Lightning Captain Steven Stamkos, who brought home the Stanley Cup in September. “@TomBrady is the GOAT for a reason. A Super Bowl championship in Tampa would be a great birthday present for me this year.”
(Reporting by Amy Tennery; editing by Richard Pullin)