Sports in Florida

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Daytona International Speedway is home to various auto racing events

The U.S. state of Florida has three NFL teams, two MLB teams, two NBA teams, two NHL teams, and one MLS team.

Florida gained its first permanent major-league professional sports team in 1966 when the American Football League added the Miami Dolphins. The state of Florida has given professional sports franchises some subsidies in the form of tax breaks since 1991.[1]

By sport[edit]

American football[edit]

Miami's first entry into the American Football League was the Miami Dolphins, which competed in the fourth AFL league from 1966 to 1969. In 1970 the Dolphins joined the National Football League when the AFL–NFL merger occurred. The team made its first Super Bowl appearance in Super Bowl VI, but lost to the Dallas Cowboys. The following year, the Dolphins completed the NFL's only perfect season culminating in a Super Bowl win. The 1972 Dolphins were the third NFL team to accomplish a perfect regular season, and won Super Bowl VIII, Miami also appeared in Super Bowl XVII and Super Bowl XIX, losing both games.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers began in 1976 as an expansion team of the NFL. They struggled at first, losing their first 26 games in a row to set a league record for futility. After a brief taste of success in the late 1970s, the Bucs again returned to their losing ways, and at one point lost 10+ games for 12 seasons in a row. The hiring of Tony Dungy in 1996 started an improving trend that eventually led to the team's victory in Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003 under coach Jon Gruden.

The Jacksonville Jaguars joined the NFL as an expansion team in the 1995 season; they play their home games at EverBank Field.[2] In 2005, Jacksonville hosted Super Bowl XXXIX.

Tampa has hosted four Super Bowls: Super Bowl XVIII (1984), Super Bowl XXV (1991), Super Bowl XXXV (2001), and Super Bowl XLIII (2009). The first two events were held at Tampa Stadium, and the other two at Raymond James Stadium.

The Orange Bowl, a member of the Bowl Championship Series, hosts their college football championship games at New Miami Stadium. The stadium has also hosted the Super Bowl; the Miami metro area has hosted the game a total of ten times (five Super Bowls at the current New Miami Stadium, including Super Bowl XLI and five at the Miami Orange Bowl), tying New Orleans for the most games.[citation needed]

Camping World Stadium (the former Citrus Bowl stadium) hosts three annual college football bowl games: the Citrus Bowl, the Russell Athletic Bowl, and the Cure Bowl.

Jacksonville hosts the Florida–Georgia game, an annual college football game between the University of Florida and the University of Georgia, as well as the Gator Bowl, a post-season college bowl game.

Baseball[edit]

The Miami Marlins of Major League Baseball began play in the 1993 season. They won the World Series in both seasons they qualified for the postseason, doing so in 1997 and 2003.

The Tampa Bay Rays began playing in 1998 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. After a decade of futility, the Rays won the 2008 American League Pennant and made it to the World Series.

About half of all Major League Baseball teams conduct spring training in the state, with teams informally organized into the "Grapefruit League". Throughout MLB history, other teams have held spring training in Florida.

Several Major League baseball teams conduct spring training in the state, and most also operate minor league teams in the Class-A Florida State League.

Basketball[edit]

The Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association was formed in 1988 as an expansion team. They have won three league championships (in 2006, 2012 and 2013), plus five conference titles.

The Orlando Magic began playing in NBA in 1989 as an expansion franchise. They have won the Eastern Conference championships in 1995 and 2009.

Florida also had two WNBA teams: the Orlando Miracle (1999-2002) and Miami Sol (2000-2002).

Ice hockey[edit]

The Florida Panthers of the National Hockey League was founded in 1993 as an expansion team. They have made one appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996.

The Tampa Bay Lightning was established in 1992, and currently play their home games in the Amalie Arena, located in downtown Tampa. In 2004, the team won their first Stanley Cup. The Lightning made the Eastern Conference Final in 2011 and were Eastern Conference Champions in 2015. They returned to the Eastern Conference Final in 2016.

Florida has three ECHL minor hockey league teams, the Florida Everblades, Jacksonville Icemen, and Orlando Solar Bears.

Soccer[edit]

The Tampa Bay Rowdies of the original North American Soccer League was the area's first major sports franchise, beginning play in 1975. The Rowdies were an immediate success, drawing good crowds and winning Soccer Bowl '75 in their first season to bring Tampa its first professional sports championship.

The Tampa Bay Mutiny were the first MLS club to win the Supporters' Shield in the league's history. The club operated from 1996 until 2001. The Miami Fusion played in MLS from 1998 to 2001, winning the Supporters' Shield in their last season.

After over a decade without an MLS team, the Orlando City SC joined the league in 2015. Meanwhile, a Major League Soccer expansion team led by David Beckham is under development.

In 2016, the Orlando Pride will begin play in the National Women's Soccer League. They will be sharing the Camping World Stadium with Orlando City.

Motorsports[edit]

NASCAR (headquartered in Daytona Beach) begins all three of its major auto racing series in Florida at Daytona International Speedway in February, featuring the Daytona 500, and ends all three Series in November at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Daytona also has the Coke Zero 400 NASCAR race weekend around Independence Day in July. The 24 Hours of Daytona is one of the world's most prestigious endurance auto races.

The 12 Hours of Sebring sports car endurance race is the second largest sporting event in the State of Florida. Each year drawing a total of over 100,000+ fans. It is held in Sebring, Florida at the Sebring International Raceway on the third week of March each year. It is one of the most prestigious car races in the world. Sebring International Raceway’s legendary 12-hour endurance race was voted the fourth best auto race of the world’s motorsports races in the USAToday 10Best competition. First run in 1952, the world’s leading drivers and manufacturers have competed at the 12 Hours of Sebring for over six decades. The race attracts drivers and fans from all over the world.

The Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and Grand Prix of Miami have held IndyCar races as well.

The Gainesville Raceway hosts the annual Gatornationals, one of the major NHRA drag events.

Other sports[edit]

The PGA of America is headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, the PGA Tour is headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, and the LPGA is headquartered in Daytona Beach.

The Players Championship, WGC-Cadillac Championship, Arnold Palmer Invitational, Honda Classic and Valspar Championship are PGA Tour rounds.

The Miami Masters is an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and WTA Premier tennis event, whereas the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships is a ATP World Tour 250 event.

Minor league sports[edit]

Several minor league baseball, football, basketball, soccer and indoor football teams are based in Florida.

College sports[edit]

Florida's universities have a number of National Collegiate Athletic Association programs, especially the Florida State Seminoles and Miami Hurricanes of the Atlantic Coast Conference, and the Florida Gators of the Southeastern Conference. Other notable college teams are the FIU Panthers, UCF Knights and South Florida Bulls.

By city[edit]

Miami[edit]

Miami's main four sports teams are the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League, the Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association, the Miami Marlins of Major League Baseball, and the Florida Panthers of the National Hockey League. Miami is also the future home to the Major League Soccer expansion team led by David Beckham.

Previously, the Miami Sol played at the Women's National Basketball Association from 2000 to 2002.

Tampa Bay[edit]

Tampa Bay is represented by three major sports teams: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League, the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League, and the Tampa Bay Rays of the MLB.

Orlando[edit]

Orlando is the home city of two major league professional sports teams — the Orlando Magic of the National Basketball Association (NBA), and Orlando City SC of Major League Soccer (MLS). Also, the Orlando Pride has competed at the National Women's Soccer League since 2016.

Orlando also has two minor league professional teams — the Orlando Solar Bears ECHL ice hockey team and the Orlando Anarchy of the Women's Football Alliance. From 1991 to 2016, it was also home to the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League.

From 1999 to 2002, the Orlando Miracle competed at the Women's National Basketball Association.

Orlando's sports teams have collectively won two Arena Bowls (1998, 2000), two titles in ice hockey, three titles in minor league baseball, and two titles in soccer.

Jacksonville[edit]

Jacksonville is home to one major league sports team, the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League (NFL).

Teams[edit]

Major league professional teams[edit]

Team League Venue Location Founded Championships
Florida Panthers National Hockey League BB&T Center Sunrise 1993 0
Jacksonville Jaguars National Football League EverBank Field Jacksonville 1995 0
Miami Dolphins National Football League Sun Life Stadium Miami Gardens 1966 2 (1972, 1973)
Miami Heat National Basketball Association American Airlines Arena Miami 1988 3 (2006, 2012, 2013)
Miami Marlins Major League Baseball Marlins Park Miami 1993 2 (1997, 2003)
Orlando City SC Major League Soccer Orlando City Stadium Orlando 2015 0
Orlando Magic National Basketball Association Amway Center Orlando 1989 0
Orlando Pride National Women's Soccer League Orlando City Stadium Orlando 2016 0
Tampa Bay Buccaneers National Football League Raymond James Stadium Tampa 1976 1 (2003)
Tampa Bay Lightning National Hockey League Amalie Arena Tampa 1992 1 (2004)
Tampa Bay Rays Major League Baseball Tropicana Field St. Petersburg 1998 0

NCAA Division I college teams[edit]

School Team City Conference
Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats Daytona Beach Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (FCS)
University of Central Florida Knights Orlando American Athletic Conference (FBS)
University of Florida Gators Gainesville Southeastern Conference (FBS)
Florida A&M University Rattlers and Lady Rattlers Tallahassee Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (FCS)
Florida Atlantic University Owls Boca Raton Conference USA (FBS)
Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles Fort Myers Atlantic Sun Conference (non-football)
Florida International University Panthers Miami Conference USA (FBS)
Florida State University Seminoles Tallahassee Atlantic Coast Conference (FBS)
Jacksonville University Dolphins Jacksonville Atlantic Sun Conference (non-football)
University of Miami Hurricanes Coral Gables Atlantic Coast Conference (FBS)
University of North Florida Ospreys and Lady Ospreys Jacksonville Atlantic Sun Conference (non-football)
University of South Florida Bulls Tampa American Athletic Conference (FBS)
Stetson University Hatters DeLand Atlantic Sun Conference (non-football)

Sports venues[edit]

Stadiums and arenas[edit]

Stadium City Capacity Type Tenants Opened
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium[3] Gainesville 88,548 Football Florida Gators 1930
Bobby Bowden Field
at Doak Campbell Stadium
Tallahassee 82,300 Football Florida State Seminoles 1950
Camping World Stadium Orlando 70,000 Football Florida Classic, Citrus Bowl 1936
EverBank Field Jacksonville 67,246 Football Jacksonville Jaguars
Florida vs. Georgia Classic
Gator Bowl
1949
Raymond James Stadium Tampa 65,857 Football Tampa Bay Buccaneers
South Florida Bulls
Outback Bowl
1998
Sun Life Stadium Miami Gardens 65,326 Football Miami Dolphins, Miami Hurricanes;
Orange Bowl
1987
Bright House Networks Stadium Orlando 45,301 Football UCF Knights 2007
Marlins Park[4] Miami 37,000 Baseball Miami Marlins 2012
Tropicana Field[5] St. Petersburg 36,973 Baseball Tampa Bay Rays
St. Petersburg Bowl
1990
FAU Stadium Boca Raton 30,000 Football Florida Atlantic Owls 2011
Bragg Memorial Stadium Tallahassee 25,500 Football Florida A&M Rattlers 1957
Orlando City Stadium Orlando 25,500 Soccer Orlando City SC, Orlando Pride 2017
BB&T Center Sunrise 20,737 Arena Florida Panthers 1998
Amalie Arena Tampa 20,500 Arena Tampa Bay Lightning 1996
Lockhart Stadium Fort Lauderdale 20,450 Soccer Fort Lauderdale Strikers 1959
FIU Stadium Miami 20,000 Football FIU Golden Panthers, Miami FC 1995
American Airlines Arena Miami 19,600 Arena Miami Heat 1999
Amway Center Orlando 18,846 Arena Orlando Magic
Orlando Solar Bears
2010
Jacksonville Veterans
Memorial Arena
Jacksonville 14,091 Arena Jacksonville Icemen
Jacksonville Sharks
2003
Donald L. Tucker Center Tallahassee 12,100 Arena Florida State Seminoles 1981
Expo Hall Tampa 11,700 Arena 1976
Silver Spurs Arena Kissimmee 10,500 Arena 2003
Jostens Center Lake Buena Vista 10,000 Arena 2008
CFE Arena Orlando 9,465 Arena UCF Knights 2007
Ocean Center Daytona Beach 8,362 Arena 1985
Pensacola Bay Center Pensacola 8,300 Arena Pensacola Ice Flyers 1985
RP Funding Center Lakeland 8,178 Arena Lakeland Magic
Florida Tarpons
1974
Germain Arena Estero 7,128 Arena Florida Everblades 1998

Auto racing tracks[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Peltier, Michael (November 5, 2011). "Lawmaker's bill would fine teams that black out games". Florida Today. Melbourne, Florida. pp. 4B. 
  2. ^ "Jacksonville Jaguars". profootballhof.com. Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved October 27, 2010. 
  3. ^ "www.gatorzone.com". www.gatorzone.com. Retrieved 2013-05-12. 
  4. ^ "Marlins Park News & Info". Miami Marlins. Retrieved March 8, 2012. 
  5. ^ "tampabay.rays.mlb.com". tampabay.rays.mlb.com. Retrieved 2013-05-12. 

External links[edit]