Raymond James Stadium from the air in 2021. (Photo by Devin Morris, via Wikipedia.)

Hurricane Ian (now downgraded to a tropical storm_ has caused incredible damage over the past few days, including in Florida after its landfall there Wednesday. More than 2.6 million people across the state were still without power as of early Thursday afternoon, with six confirmed deaths and huge amounts of property damage.

There have been impacts on sports as well. Many college football games were moved or rescheduled ahead of the storm’s landfall in Florida, and the NFL developed a contingency plan to move the Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ Sunday Night Football game against the Kansas City Chiefs to Minneapolis if needed. But on Thursday, the Buccaneers announced that they will host that game at home as planned:

Here’s the statement the team put on their website:

Our thoughts and prayers remain with the many thousands in the Southwest Florida region who have been severely impacted by Hurricane Ian. We are also very thankful that the Tampa Bay area was spared the most damaging consequences of this powerful storm. We have informed the NFL, after consulting with local and state agencies, that we are ready to play Sunday night’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium as originally scheduled.

We would like to thank all of the local government agencies and the thousands of emergency personnel who worked tirelessly over the past few days to ensure that our area would be ready to respond if needed. We would also like to acknowledge the Miami Dolphins organization for their assistance and hospitality in allowing us to use their practice facilities this week.

We also want to express our sincere appreciation to the first responders and emergency personnel who are already battling the elements, saving lives, and helping our neighbors in those most impacted areas to our south.

We will have additional information soon on ways we can join together to support our community and those most impacted by the storm.

The decision to go ahead is receiving some praise from fans eager to see the game at home, but some criticism from those questioning the allocation of first responder resources to a NFL game in the wake of a massive natural disaster like this. Much of that can be seen in the quote-tweets of the Bucs’ announcement (language warning). Even without Tampa itself experiencing the worst damage, there’s still a debate over if this is the right call for the Bucs and the NFL or not.

[Buccaneers.com; top photo of Raymond James Stadium in 2021 from Devin Morris on Wikipedia]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.