Tampa Bay Buccaneers Evacuate to Miami Ahead of Hurricane Ian, Sunday Night Game Remains as Scheduled

by Nick Geddes
(Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

The NFL is making contingency plans for the Week 4 “Sunday Night Football” matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs ahead of Hurricane Ian’s expected landfall in Florida this week.

Per Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Buccaneers are evacuating Tampa on Tuesday afternoon. The team will practice at the Miami Dolphins’ facility, who are on the road this week. The league is continuing to monitor whether the Buccaneers and Chiefs can play at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Sunday night.

Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles said Monday that discussions were being had with the league about a contingency plan.

“Right now we’re still monitoring things, but we’re working things out with the league and we should have a decision hopefully later on about what we’re going to do,” Bowles said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.

It is a possibility that the league will go forward with the game, albeit played in a different city.

“Possibly, if it gets to that,” Bowles said.

It is a scenario that played out last season after Hurricane Ida hit New Orleans. The Saints hosted the Green Bay Packers in Week 1 in Jacksonville.

Buccaneers, Chiefs Monitoring Hurricane Ian

Hurricane Ian is expected to make landfall in the Tampa Bay area on Wednesday heading into Thursday. Latest models have the storm forming into a Category 4 and making a slow push across the area. City officials ordered residents to evacuate on Monday.

“We did not make this decision easily, but the storm poses a serious threat, and we must do everything we can to protect our residents,” Hillsborough County Administrator Bonnie Wise said.

This order impacts an estimated 300,000 residents in parts of Hillsborough County. Officials are estimating winds to reach 120 mph, and Wise recommends residents seek shelter at least 20 miles inland. Mandated shelters will most likely be crowded and limited space. Additionally, residents are starting to hoard water and supplies, and gas stations reported long lines over the weekend.

“This is a really, really big hurricane,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

He shared that Ian is currently stretching about 500 miles and could potentially impact the entire state. DeSantis predicted heavy flooding in Tampa and said officials distributed medical personnel, ambulances, water pumps, and generators in parts of Hillsborough County.