Buccaneers join Rays in supporting removal of Confederate monument
TAMPA — Make that two local professional sports teams that want to see Tampa’s Confederate monument moved.
Responding to a question from the Tampa Bay Times, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers said in statement: “We support the removal of the Confederate memorial.”
“We do not believe it is a true and accurate depiction of the values that make Tampa such a great, progressive city,” the statement said.
The Buccaneers are now aligned on the issue with the Tampa Bay Rays, which last week also said the organization was “supportive of its removal from the courthouse."
Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Lightning declined to weigh in on the controversy, saying the decision, “should rest with the county commissioners that have been elected to represent us and our county.”
(The Times asked the region’s three professional sports teams about the monument last week, however, the Buccaneers' offices were closed for the holiday. The team responded to the inquiry Wednesday night.)
An effort to remove the Confederate statue, called Memoria in Aeterna, was defeated by one vote last month by the Hillsborough County Commission. But Commissioner Les Miller said he will bring it up again at the next meeting on Wednesday, and at least one of the prevailing commissioners is now open to moving the statue.
The Buccaneers play in Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, which is owned by Hillsborough County, and the team has worked with county leaders in recent years on a $100 million renovation of the stadium.
As a league, the NFL has recently used its clout to sway social and political debates.
It said it may not hold future Super Bowls in Texas if the state passed a bill that banned transgender individuals from using a bathroom other than one for their assigned sex at birth. It made the same threat to Georgia in 2016 before the governor vetoed a bill that allowed businesses to turn away LGBT customers and employees for religious reasons.
"NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and any other improper standard," the league said in the statement before the Georgia decision. "Whether the laws and regulations of a state and local community are consistent with these policies would be one of many factors NFL owners may use to evaluate potential Super Bowl host sites."
NFL owners recently awarded the 2021 Super Bowl to Tampa's Raymond James Stadium. League spokesman Brian McCarthy declined to comment on the Confederate memorial debate.
Erected in 1911, the Confederate monument features two soldiers — one heading north to battle, and another, facing south, uniform tattered. Between them is a marble obelisk that bears the rebel flag. It was moved to its current location in 1932, outside what is now the old county courthouse, an office building that also holds traffic court and conducts weddings.
It is the oldest statue in Tampa and its unveiling drew 5,000 when the city was still a small port town.
At the monument's dedication, 50 years after the start of the Civil War, the keynote speaker called African-Americans an "ignorant and inferior race."