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Bob Andelman Articles Archive

Hugh Culverhouse

Profile By Bob Andelman

(Originally published in the Maddux Report, 1989)

If you want to change Hugh Culverhouse's mood in a second, ask him about all this talk of taking his NFL franchise, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to Orlando for a few regular season home games in the coming years.

The wealthy lawyer and football team owner Forbes lists him as the 274th wealthiest American with $365 million has had a bumpy relationship with the Tampa Bay area dating back to his unwillingness to pay former quarterback Doug Williams enough money to get him in Tampa and his inability to sign athlete Bo Jackson to a contract. But things got really out of hand when Culverhouse began talking about moving a few games to Orlando if corporate ticket and skybox sales didn't improve.

"Hugh Gotta Go!" screamed billboards erected almost overnight by sister radio stations WFLA and WFLZ. One sign was more to the point, showing a picture of a screw next to Culverhouse's name. (The Tampa Chamber of Commerce answered with a billboard of its own, crediting Mr. C. with bringing the 1992 Silver Anniversary Super Bowl to Tampa.) By invoking Orlando, Culverhouse did more for Bay area unity than anyone else. And when a Sacramento, Ca. group announced its interest in buying the Bucs and taking the team west, Culverhouse was not vociferously disinterested enough to satisfy many.

There have been a few bright spots on the year for Culverhouse. After two years of on-again, off-again negotiations to buy controlling interest in Coast Federal Savings & Loan, his offer of $55 million $15-a-share cash for the thrift was finally accepted. Coast was important to him because he and the bank share a 50/50 interest in the 10,000 acre Palmer Ranch, the largest undeveloped tract in Sarasota County. Culverhouse plans to merge the S&L with his Palmer Financial Corp.

And, of course, his Buccaneers are poised on the verge of their first winning season in many years. The morning after the team soundly defeated the Chicago Bears after 12 straight losses to the Windy City roughnecks, Culverhouse was exuberant. "It's a helluva Monday compared to a lot of 'em!"

Then a small voice in his ear ruined the mood by asking if he was still thinking about Orlando.

©2000, All rights reserved. No portion may be reproduced without the express written permission of the author.






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