Our Sports Teams Hit It Out of the Park  - Guide to Greater Tampa Bay
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Our Sports Teams Hit It Out of the Park 

Our Sports Teams Hit It Out of the Park 

It is no surprise this region often goes by the name Champa Bay. Professional sports have a long and storied history in Greater Tampa Bay. In fact, pro teams have called the region home for more than 100 years.   

The Chicago Cubs moved their spring training from New Orleans to Tampa way back in 1913. The bay area has been home to an MLB team every year since — except for 1943-1945, when World War II prohibited teams from traveling south for spring training. The Florida State League was created in 1919 with six minor league teams. The first championship came that year with the Bartow Polkers.   

In 1926, Olympic Gold medalist, MLB Champion and NFL Hall-of-Famer Jim Thorpe led the Tampa Cardinals in an exhibition game against the Chicago Bears and their rookie Red Grange at Plant Field.  

Today, the region is home to three major professional franchises, five minor league baseball franchises, one soccer franchise and one basketball franchise. 

Local pro teams have played a record-setting number of championship games since 2020. This includes the Buccaneers’ win in the Super Bowl in 2021, the Lightning winning the NHL Stanley Cup in 2020 and 2021, The Rays winning the AL Pennant and playing in the World Series in 2020, the Tampa Bay Rowdies USL Championship in 2020, the Bradenton Marauders’ Low-A Southeast League Title and the Lakeland Magic in the NBA-D League in 2021. 

GTB is also home to many major sporting events. There have been five Super Bowls in Tampa, with the Buccaneers becoming the first team in 2021 to ever win the Super Bowl in their home stadium. Tropicana Field hosted the World Series in 2008 and 2021. The Stanley Cup Finals came to Tampa in 2004, 2015, 2021 and 2022 — the Bolts’ 2020 title run was in Canada due to Covid protocols. The Valspar Championship is held at the Innisbrook Golf and Spa Resort in Palm Harbor every year, and TPC Tampa Bay is host to 21 consecutive Champions Tour events. 

1. Touchdown with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium 

The 2002 and 2020 Super Bowls Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers play their home games at the “Ray Jay,” Raymond James Stadium. Opened in 1998, the Ray Jay’s capacity is 70,000. 

The cannon fire will roar with every TB touchdown. With two Lombardi trophies already — the first obtained in their Super Bowl XXXVII win over the Oakland Raiders — the Bucs can join only 10 other teams in achieving a third. 


Raymond James Stadium has been called the crown jewel of NFL stadiums, and for good reason. There are 12,000 club seats and 195 suites to choose from, and behind the north end zone, the infamous Buccaneers Cove is complete with a 103-foot-long pirate ship. 

It is common for fans to dress up in their Captain Jack best for a game.

For information on how to get on the waitlist, visit buccaneers.com

2. Back-to-back with the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena 

The hottest team in professional sports plays their games on the frozen pond at Amalie Arena. They won the Stanley Cup two years in a row, in 2020 and 2021, but fell short of having a three-peat with a loss to the Colorado Avalanche in 2022. The Bolts are locked and loaded for another run at Lord Stanley in 2023 as the playoffs near.  


The arena’s cool lightning effect, generated by Tesla coils above the rink, is a truly unique sensory experience. It is like sitting below a thunderstorm indoors, and it is an incredible addition for fans. 

Ready to hit the ice? Visit nhl.com/lightning

3. Play ball with the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field 

The Tampa Bay Rays are one of the hottest teams in baseball, as repeat winners of the American League East and the AL Pennant in 2020. In 2021, they were even hotter during the regular season, finishing with the most wins in the American League. The Rays are in the top four for wins in the last 10 years. In the 2022 season, they came in second place in the AL East. 

The Tampa Bay Rays have one of the youngest teams in baseball, led by AL Rookie of the Year Randy Arozarena, Wunderkid Wander Franco and Brandon Lowe. Catching a game at the Trop is a must-do. 


At Tropicana Field, popularly known as the Trop, even the cheap seats will give fans an enjoyable view of the game. The domed stadium eliminates the need to sit outside and bake in the Florida sun for nine innings.  

Make sure to check out the ray tank behind the right center field fence. The St. Petersburg/Clearwater Convention and Visitors Bureau sponsors the 10,000-gallon touch-tank full of stingrays. 

Grab a mitt and get ready to catch a homer with the Rays. To purchase tickets, visit mlb.com/rays.  

4. Get your soccer on with the Tampa Bay Rowdies

Once upon a time…before there were Buccaneers, Lightning or Rays winning championships…Tampa Bay was a soccer town. With its own hit song, “A Kick in the Grass,” blaring from the speakers, the Rowdies averaged more than 12,000 fans per game and a record match with 56,000 in attendance in 1980. The original iteration of the team played from 1975 to 1993 in the now-defunct North American Soccer League.  

The Rowdies have been part of the USL Championship since 2017 and play at the Al Lang Stadium in downtown St. Petersburg. Founded in 2008, the Rowdies won the League Championship in 2012 and had the best record in the league in both 2020 and 2021. The Rowdies had a historic and record-breaking 2021 season led by returning captain and top goal-scorer Sebastian Guenzatti. 

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A Rowdies game is a great –– and affordable –– way to spend a summer night. The grandstand faces southeast, which not only provides a great view of the game, but a gorgeous look at the St. Pete harbor. This stadium is located right on the water, which gives off a cool, ocean breeze. Fireworks follow every single home game. 

Snag tickets to a Tampa Bay Rowdies game at rowdiessoccer.com

5. Take to the minors with the Tampa Tarpons at Steinbrenner Field 

One of the best things about Minor League Baseball games, aside from saving a few bucks, is the chance to see the up-and-coming stars of tomorrow play ball. Not only that, but minor league games are designed with families in mind. 

The Tampa Tarpons –– a tarpon is a big ol’ gamefish, by the way –– were established back in 1994 as the Tampa Yankees. The team is a Low-A affiliate of the New York Yankees and was renamed in 2018. They are pretty darn good, too. 

Since their inception, the Tarpons won five Florida State League championship titles and have been the home team to future champions, such as Hall of Famers Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, and current star Aaron Judge. Capping off the 2021 season with a division title, it is safe to say that their record speaks for itself.  


The Tarpons play at George M. Steinbrenner Field, also the spring training home for the Yankees, and its reputation precedes itself. The stadium itself is designed with elements of the old and new Yankee stadiums in mind. 

In April 2022, the Tarpons made history when Rachel Balkovec made her debut as the first woman to manage a minor league team affiliated with Major League Baseball.  

To score tickets to an upcoming Tarpons game, visit milb.com/tampa.

By Scott Costello.

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