The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are playing Super Bowl 55 at their home stadium, but that didn’t guarantee them a spot as the “home team” for the actual football game.
Raymond James Stadium in Tampa will host the Buccaneers vs. the Chiefs on Sunday, Feb. 7. Tampa Bay is the first team to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium. Whether that creates a home-field advantage with only about a third of the stadium filled with fans due to COVID-19 restrictions remains to be seen. But the home team at a given Super Bowl has nothing to do with where the game is played.
How is the home team chosen at the Super Bowl?
There’s nothing fancy about the home team determination for the Super Bowl. It alternates each year from the AFC representative to the NFC representative and back again.
A year ago, the Chiefs were the home team as they won Super Bowl 54. For Super Bowl 55, that means the Buccaneers are the home team while the Chiefs are the away team. It’s purely coincidental that the designations align with the game being played in Tampa Bay’s home stadium.
It would’ve been interesting to see what happened with locker rooms if the Buccaneers were deemed the visitors. Would they have had to let the Chiefs use the home locker room while they dressed in the away locker room? Alas, the timing didn’t work out for such a discovery in 2021.
Ironically, the Buccaneers were better on the road this season than at home, going 6-2 away from Raymond James Stadium in the regular season while going 5-3 at home. Tampa Bay also won three road games in the playoffs prior to the Super Bowl.
Does home team matter at the Super Bowl?
The home team at the Super Bowl gets to determine which uniforms it will wear. That usually forces the visitor into wearing the opposite, as NFL teams have colored uniform tops at home and white uniform tops on the road.
In 2021, the Buccaneers elected to wear white jerseys with pewter pants. The Chiefs will wear their red jerseys with white pants — the same combination they wore for their Super Bowl 54 win.
The road team gets to call the opening coin toss at NFL games. While heads vs. tails is a 50-50 probability, the winner of the coin toss is in a strong position. Usually, teams choose to defer the decision to the second half, meaning the team that loses the coin toss will choice to receive in the first half and the team that wins the coin toss will then choose to receive in the second half.
But since the coin toss really is random, the significance of it doesn’t come from the team that gets the right to call it. It matters most to whichever team wins it.
Why are the Buccaneers playing Super Bowl 55 in home stadium?
While the NFL is all-powerful, by its precedents there was nothing the league could do to avoid Tampa Bay playing at Raymond James Stadium for Super Bowl 55. After SoFi Stadium in California had construction delays, Raymond James Stadium was moved up a year to host the Super Bowl in 2021 and not 2022.
That decision was made in May 2017, well before anyone could know if the Buccaneers were good in the 2020 season. And if not for Tom Brady’s decision, Tampa Bay likely wouldn’t be at this stage.
But the Buccaneers brought Brady aboard from New England, and Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown followed him. That made a strong offense even stronger for Bruce Arians, and coupled with an underrated defense, Tampa Bay won three games on the road as the NFC’s No. 5 seed to advance to a Super Bowl at home.