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How to build the ‘Ultimate Dude Dungeon’

Posted Dec 28, 2010 by TBO.com

Updated Jan 3, 2011 at 12:49 AM

The temperature flashing on the bank sign across from the parking lot of Raymond James Stadium on Sunday said 46 degrees. The grey blanket of clouds in the sky made me feel bad about all the times I posted pictures of beaches and scenes of shorts and flip flops in the middle of winter on Facebook and tagged family members that live in Idaho.

The frigid wind made it that much worse.

The few fans that were braving the blustery-for-Florida conditions were huddled under blankets in the hatchbacks of their SUVs or circled around hibachi grills.

If it weren’t for the palm trees lining the parking lot, it would have felt like a road game in Seattle, whom the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were preparing to play.

It’s no surprise that the stadium is half-empty just 15 minutes before kickoff.

Blame the blackouts that cost fans the chance to see every single Tampa Bay home game on television. Blame the NFL’s draconian rules on broadcasting and game coverage. Blame it on the rise of fantasy leagues that cause fans to become emotionally involved with their digital roster instead of their hometown team. Blame it on the economy. Blame it on simple fan apathy. You could even blame a team that, despite their record, has few flashy playmakers that can inspire random and raucous fits of cheering.

Whatever the reason, fans aren’t putting the same value on their local game-day stadium experience that they once did.

I blame the emergence of “dude dungeons.”

Some people refer to them as “man caves” but that term sounds more apt to describe domestic beer commercials, non-Chicago bears and Taliban leaders.

And on days like this, I can’t say I blame fans one bit.

Who wants to crowd into rows of plastic seats when you can watch the game in the supine position from your own couch?

Who wants to go out in weather that is so bad that on any other day would be a perfectly viable excuse to get out of the yard work chores with the significant other?

Who needs overpriced and watered down domestic beer when you can imbibe from your own stock of craft beers from your own liquor cabinet?

And who wants to listen to the guy in the row behind you remind you about the presence of his daughter any time you feel like expressing your disgust with a referee’s call with vigor and colorful language? It is enough to make the most ardent fan want to turn around and puke on his Florsheim loafers.

The simple truth is, the most enjoyable way to see an NFL football game doesn’t involve a trip to the stadium. A theory that is supported by the television ratings.

For instance:
•Seven of the top 10 most viewed television programs this year have been football games.
•15 games this season have topped 25 million viewers and that number will likely rise with marquee late-season matchups and the playoffs right around the corner.
•ESPN has seen a doubling in ratings for their “Monday Night Football” programming this season.

And what better way to watch a game on television than to do so in the sanctity of your own personal dude dungeon?

So what does it take to turn that spare bedroom, garage or climate-controlled shed into a haven of sports consumption?

Here is the View from the Cheap Seat’s Guide to building the Ultimate Dude Dungeon.

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