Sports in the Tampa Bay Area
The Tampa Bay Area is home to many sports teams and has a substantial history of sporting activity. Most of the region's professional sports franchises use the name "Tampa Bay", which is the name of a body of water, not of any city. This is to emphasize that they represent the wider metropolitan area and not a particular municipality.
Three teams compete at the major league level. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play in the National Football League (NFL), the Tampa Bay Lightning play in the National Hockey League (NHL), and the Tampa Bay Rays play in Major League Baseball (MLB). Additionally, six MLB teams hold their spring training camps in the area.
A number of minor league franchises play in the region as well, including the Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena Football League, the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the new North American Soccer League, and four minor league baseball teams competing in the Class-A Florida State League.
- 1 Major pro sports
- 2 College sports
- 3 Current major sports teams
- 4 Super Bowls, World Series, and other championship events
- 5 Other sports and events
- 6 Historical teams and venues
- 7 All time pro franchises
- 8 See also
- 9 References
Major pro sports
Professional football first arrived in the Tampa Bay area in 1964, when the American Football League staged an exhibition game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets. Five years later, the Miami Dolphins and the Minnesota Vikings faced off in a joint AFL-NFL preseason game prior to the 1969 season, the final one before the two leagues would merge.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL began play in old Tampa Stadium in 1976 as an expansion team. After losing an NFL-record 26 straight games to begin their existence, the Bucs reached the 1979 NFC Championship game only to sink back into futility with an NFL-record 14 straight losing seasons through the 1980s and early 1990s.
The franchise's fortunes began a turnaround in the mid-90s under coach Tony Dungy, and the success continued after the team moved into newly built Raymond James Stadium in 1998. The upward trend culminated in the Bucs' first championship at the end of the 2002 season under coach Jon Gruden, when they defeated the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII. The Bucs have made several playoff appearances since then but have not returned to the championship game. Lovie Smith became the Bucs' head coach after the 2013 season.
Major League Baseball
Minor league, amateur, and spring training baseball have long been very popular in the Tampa Bay area. As such, a fierce cross-bay competition for a potential Major League Baseball franchise developed in the 1980s and 1990s, with Tampa and St. Petersburg each vying to bring professional baseball to town. Despite warnings from MLB that expansion was not imminent, St. Pete began construction of the Florida Suncoast Dome in 1987 in the hopes of eventually landing a MLB team through expansion or relocation.
Many teams, including the Oakland A's, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins, and San Francisco Giants, considered moving to the vacant venue. Local investors actually bought part ownership of the Twins and, in another attempt, had an agreement to buy the Giants and bring them to St. Pete. However, for various reasons, all these attempts to bring major league baseball to the area fell short.
Tampa Bay was rumored to be a front-runner when MLB expanded by two teams in 1991, but Miami and Denver were chosen instead. Finally, in March 1995, St. Petersburg was awarded a major league expansion franchise along with Phoenix.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays began play in newly renamed Tropicana Field in 1998. The franchise struggled through its first 10 years of existence, finishing last in the American League's East Division in nine of those ten seasons. After (again) posting the worst record in baseball in 2007, however, the newly renamed "Rays" won 97 games in 2008, winning the AL East and the AL pennant to earn a berth in the 2008 World Series under manager Joe Maddon. Since 2008 inclusive, the Rays have won two AL East titles and have made 4 playoff appearances.
Spring training and minor leagues
The area has had a long association with spring training baseball. The local tradition began in 1913, when the Chicago Cubs, lured by Tampa mayor D.B. McKay's pledge to pay the team's expenses, trained at Plant Field. St. Petersburg mayor Al Lang made a similar push, and in 1914, the St. Louis Browns became the first of many teams to train in St. Pete, being succeeded by the Philadelphia Phillies for 1915. The Phillies used a new facility called "Coffee Pot Bayou Park" along the city's bayfront area. In the 1940s, a small modern ballpark was built on the site. It would be christened Al Lang Field in honor of the mayor who had brought baseball to St. Petersburg.
Many major league teams have trained in the Tampa Bay area over the ensuing decades. Current members of the spring training Grapefruit League include:
- The Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota
- The New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa
- The Philadelphia Phillies at Bright House Networks Field in Clearwater
- The Pittsburgh Pirates at McKechnie Field in Bradenton
- The Toronto Blue Jays at Knology Park in Dunedin
- The Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland
- The Clearwater Threshers (Phillies): Bright House Networks Field in Clearwater
- The Dunedin Blue Jays: Knology Park in Dunedin
- The Bradenton Marauders (Pirates): McKechnie Field in Bradenton
- The Tampa Yankees: George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa
- The Lakeland Flying Tigers: Joker Marchant Stadium, Lakeland
Several other local minor league teams have come and gone over the years. Notable historical teams include:
- The Tampa Smokers - The area's first modern professional baseball team (1919), charter member of the original Florida State League (FSL)
- The St. Petersburg Saints - Founded in 1920, also played in the FSL
- The Tampa Tarpons - Long-time FSL affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, alumni include several members of the "Big Red Machine"
- The Tampa Rockets - Local affiliate in the Florida State Negro League during the 1940s
The NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning were established as an expansion franchise in 1992. They began play in the Florida State Fairgrounds' Expo Hall in Tampa, then moved across the bay to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg (which was rechristened "The Thunderdome" at the time), and finally found a permanent home ice in the new Amalie Arena (originally known as the "Ice Palace"), located in the Channelside District of downtown Tampa. The "Bolts" won their first Stanley Cup championship at the end of the 2003–04 season, defeating the Calgary Flames in seven games. After a few losing seasons, the Lightning made it back to the Eastern Conference finals in 2011 under coach Guy Boucher. They have been coached by Jon Cooper since 2013.
University of South Florida
The University of South Florida (USF) Bulls (originally the "Golden Brahmans") compete in NCAA Division I, the highest level of college sports. USF opened in north Tampa in 1960 and started its sports program in 1965 with a men's soccer squad. The school gradually added more sports in the ensuing years, including both men's and women's basketball in 1971. The hoop teams played in Curtis Hixon Hall in downtown Tampa until 1980, when the school opened the on-campus USF Sun Dome for use by its basketball, gymnastics, and volleyball teams.
USF began a football program in 1997. They played in Tampa Stadium for one season, then moved into newly built Raymond James Stadium the following year. The program competed as a Division I-AA independent during its first four seasons until 2001, when the Bulls moved up to Division I-A. They joined Conference USA in 2003, switched to the Big East Conference in 2005, and became a charter member of the American Athletic Conference in 2013.
After joining the Big East, the Bulls began a streak of six straight bowl game appearances. The 2007 season was the program's most successful so far, as the team reached as high as #2 in the BCS rankings under coach Jim Leavitt. Willie Taggart became USF's head football coach after the 2012 season.
University of Tampa
The University of Tampa has the oldest collegiate sports program in the area, dating to 1933, when the school first fielded a football team. The "Tampa U" Spartans used Plant Field for a few seasons before moving to Phillips Field for several decades. They were the first team to call Tampa Stadium home when it opened in 1967. The Spartans moved up to play NCAA Division I football and produced several NFL stars, before dropping the sport entirely after the 1974 season due to budgetary concerns.
Currently, UT competes at the NCAA Division II level in the Sunshine State Conference (SSC). UT is among the top schools in the SSC in both championships and student-athletes named to the Commissioner's Honor Roll. Spartan teams have won NCAA-II titles in men's soccer (1981, 1994 and 2001), women's soccer (2007), baseball (1992, 1993, 1998, 2006, 2007, 2013), golf (1987 and 1988), and volleyball (2006). With national championships in 2006 and 2007, the Spartan baseball team became the first team in Div. II baseball to win consecutive titles since they did it previously in 1992 and 1993. The school's basketball teams have played in the on-campus Bob Martinez Sports Center since 1984.
St. Leo University
Though Saint Leo was established as a college in 1889 and is much older than any of the other college in the Tampa Bay Area, a good portion of their early history was spent as a college preparatory school. The college was re-established in 1959. SLU teams participate as a member of the NCAA's Division II. The Lions are charter members of the Sunshine State Conference. Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, swimming and tennis; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis and volleyball. The baseball team calls Thomas B. Southard Stadium home. The Marion Bowman Center is used for basketball and volleyball. Marion Bowman Aquatics Center hosts the swim team. Soccer, tennis and lacrosse are also played at on-campus facilities. The golf team uses neighboring Lake Jovita Golf & Country Club as their home course.
Eckerd College is a charter member of the Sunshine State Conference (NCAA Division II) fielding 13 athletic teams in coed and women's sailing, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's soccer, baseball, volleyball, men's and women's golf, men's and women's tennis, and softball. The sailing team competes nationally as a member of the SAISA (the South Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association) and is a member of the ICSA (Intercollegiate Sailing Association). The college's basketball and volleyball teams play in the McArthur Center's gymnasium. Eckerd's mascot is the Triton, and the school's colors, teal, navy and black were adopted by the athletic programs in 2005; previously the school's colors had been black, red, and white.
In 2006, for the first time in the 24-year history of the Eckerd College Women's Volleyball program, the Tritons qualified for the NCAA South Region tournament. Notable baseball alumni include Steve Balboni, Bill Evers, Joe Lefebvre and Brian Sabean.
Current major sports teams
The following table shows the major professional and Division I college sports teams in the Tampa Bay area, ranked by attendance.
|Club||Sport||League / Conference||Venue (capacity)||Location||Attendance|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Football||National Football League||Raymond James Stadium (65,900)||Tampa||59,659|
|USF Bulls football||College football||NCAA Div I – AAC||Raymond James Stadium (65,900)||Tampa||34,702|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||Ice hockey||National Hockey League||Amalie Arena (19,200)||Tampa||18,612|
|Tampa Bay Rays||Baseball||Major League Baseball||Tropicana Field (42,735)||St. Petersburg||17,857|
|Tampa Bay Storm||Arena football||Arena Football League||Amalie Arena (19,500)||Tampa||11,402|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||Soccer||North American Soccer League||Al Lang Stadium (7,225)||St. Petersburg||4,649|
|USF Bulls basketball||College basketball||NCAA Div I – AAC||USF Sun Dome (10,400)||Tampa||4,406|
Super Bowls, World Series, and other championship events
- Tampa has hosted four Super Bowls. Super Bowl XVIII (1984) and Super Bowl XXV (1991) were held in Tampa Stadium; Super Bowl XXXV (2001) and Super Bowl XLIII (2009) were played in Raymond James Stadium.
- Two World Series games were played in St. Petersburg's Tropicana Field in the fall of 2008 when the Tampa Bay Rays hosted the Philadelphia Phillies.
- Four Stanley Cup Finals games were played in Tampa's St. Pete Times Forum late in the spring of 2004 when the Tampa Bay Lightning hosted the Calgary Flames.
- Three NASL indoor soccer championships have been hosted locally by the Tampa Bay Rowdies at the Bayfront Center in St. Petersburg: 1976, 1979–80 and 1981–82.
- Three ArenaBowls have been hosted locally by the Tampa Bay Storm: ArenaBowl IX in 1995 (St. Petersburg), ArenaBowl XII in 1998 (Tampa) and ArenaBowl XVII in 2003 (Tampa).
- The NCAA has regularly chosen local venues to host contests for the men's and women's national championship basketball tournaments. Tropicana Field was the site of the 1999 Final Four and has hosted several regional finals. The Amalie Arena has hosted early-round games in the men's tournament many times and was the site of the 2008 Women's Final Four. The Women's Final Four will return in 2015.
- The NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship final has been played in Tampa on five occasions. In 1978, 1979 and 1980 it was played at Tampa Stadium. In 1990 and 1991 the USF Soccer Stadium served as the host venue.
- The 1990 Davis Cup Final was played in St. Petersburg at the Florida Suncoast Dome.
- In 2012 the Amalie Arena played host to the Men's Frozen Four. To date this is the farthest South the tournament finals have been staged. It will play host again in 2016.
- In 2012 Al Lang Stadium hosted the second leg of the NASL Championship Series between the Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Minnesota Stars FC.
- In 2017 Raymond James Stadium will host the FBS National Championship Game.
- Tampa Stadium played host to the 1984 USFL Championship Game.
- Each spring at Raymond James Stadium hosts the USEF's top 30 ranked equestrians compete at the American Invitational for the sport's largest purse.
Other sports and events
The Tampa Bay Storm play in the Arena Football League. Originally established in Pittsburgh as the Pittsburgh Gladiators, the team moved to St. Petersburg and changed their name for the 1991 season. The newly christened Storm won their first Arena Bowl championship in their first season in the Tampa Bay Area and have been extremely successful ever since; the franchise's 5 league titles is more than any other AFL team. They have won five championships (1991, 1993, 1995, 1996, and 2003), tied with the Arizona Rattlers for the most of all Arena Football League teams.
The Storm have one of the longest associations with their market of any AFL team and enjoy strong local support. In 2010, the team's average attendance (15,237) and total attendance (121,896) were the highest in the league.
The Storm's original home turf in the Tampa Bay Area was Tropicana Field, which was called "The Thunderdome" for a few years in honor of its two main tenants at the time: the Storm and the Lightning. Since 1997, the Storm has played its home games in the Amalie Arena in downtown Tampa.
The Tampa Bay Area has two rugby union teams that compete in the Florida Rugby Union. The Bay Area Pelicans RFC, established in 1977, play in USA Rugby Division II. The Tampa Bay Krewe, established in 1989, play in Division I and have sides in Division II and Division III as well as a women's side.
The Tampa Bay Rowdies are a member of the new North American Soccer League (NASL) competing in the second tier of the United States soccer pyramid. The franchise considers itself to be a continuation of the original Tampa Bay Rowdies of the old NASL and displays a star on its shield commemorating the 1975 championship. Though the owners intended to use the Rowdies name from the beginning, trademark issues forced the team to call itself FC Tampa Bay when it took the pitch as an expansion franchise of the USSF Division 2 Professional League in 2010. The team transitioned into the NASL for 2011 and finally obtained the rights to the Rowdies name for 2012.
The club played its first season in George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa before moving to St. Petersburg's Al Lang Stadium for subsequent seasons. In 2012, the Rowdies won the NASL's Soccer Bowl to claim the league championship. They have been managed by Ricky Hill since 2011.
VSI Tampa Bay FC plays in the USL Pro league, which is sanctioned as a third tier or Division III Professional League by United States Soccer Federation (U.S. Soccer), placing it under Major League Soccer (Division I) and the North American Soccer League (Division II) in the hierarchy. The club's female squad is also called VSI Tampa Bay FC, and they play in the W-League. Both teams are based in, and play their home matches in Plant City, Florida at Plant City Stadium. Another local women's squad Tampa Bay Hellenic (est. 2008) had played in the Women's Premier Soccer League, but has since merged with VSI Tampa Bay FC following the 2012 season.
Notable sporting events in the area include:
- The NCAA football Division I FBS Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium is held in Tampa each January, usually on New Years Day
- The NCAA football Division I FBS Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl at Tropicana Field is held in St. Petersburg each December
- The NCAA football East–West Shrine Game has been held annually at Tropicana Field since 2012
- The Tampa Bay Derby (Grade II) thoroughbred horse race is held annually in mid March at Tampa Bay Downs near Oldsmar
- The USHRA holds an event every January at Raymond James Stadium
- The IZOD IndyCar Series Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is held on a course encompassing the Albert Whitted Airport and streets in the Bayfront area in St. Petersburg. The race has been held in 2003 & 2005–present. Other motorsports events include the SCCA Trans-Am Series, which competed at the Bayfront area from 1985 to 1990, and at a course surrounding Tropicana Field from 1996 to 1997. In 1989 and 1990, IMSA held a race at the Florida State Fairgrounds.
- The 1978 AFC–NFC Pro Bowl was held in Tampa at Tampa Stadium
- The 1999 NHL All Star Game was held in Tampa at the Ice Palace
- The 2008 and 2009 ACC Championship Games were held at Raymond James Stadium
- The Tampa Bay Derby (Grade II) thoroughbred horse race is held annually in mid March at Tampa Bay Downs near Oldsmar
- The Indy Racing League's Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is held annually during the first weekend of April
- The USEF's top 30 ranked equestrians compete each spring in the American Invitational for the sport's largest purse in Tampa at Raymond James Stadium,
- Three ArenaBowls have been held locally: ArenaBowl IX in 1995 (St. Petersburg), ArenaBowl XI in 1991 (Tampa) and ArenaBowl XI in 2003 (Tampa)
- Three NASL Indoor Championships (1976, 1979–80 and 1981–82) have been decided in St. Petersburg at the Bayfront Center
- The 1984 USFL Championship Game was played in Tampa at Tampa Stadium
- The 1990 Davis Cup Final was played in St. Petersburg at the Florida Suncoast Dome
- The 2012 NASL Championship Series' second leg was played in St. Petersburg at Al Lang Stadium
Historical teams and venues
Tampa Stadium was the first large modern sports venue in the area, holding over 73,000 fans in its final configuration. It was built in 1967 for the University of Tampa Spartans college football program with an eye toward future NFL expansion. "Tampa U" discontinued its football program in 1974, but Tampa Stadium was soon put back to use when the Tampa Bay Rowdies began play in 1975 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicked off in 1976.
In its day, the "Big Sombrero" was also home to the Tampa Bay Bandits of the USFL, the Tampa Bay Mutiny of MLS, and USF Bulls football. It hosted two Super Bowls and a Pro Bowl along with numerous special events and large concerts, such as a 1973 Led Zeppelin concert that broke the all-time record for the largest crowd to see a single artist and a 1977 Led Zeppelin concert that was cut short by a thunderstorm, leading to an audience riot.
Immediately upon buying the Buccaneers in 1995, new owner Malcolm Glazer declared Tampa Stadium inadequate and demanded that a new facility be built at public expense or he would move the team. Local governments acquiesced, raising sales taxes and constructing Raymond James Stadium directly adjacent to Tampa Stadium. The Big Sombrero was demolished in 1998.
Al Lopez Field
Al Lopez Field was a spring training and minor league ballpark in Tampa situated at the current location of Raymond James Stadium. It was built in 1954 and named after Al Lopez, the Ybor City native who went on become Tampa's first MLB player and, eventually, a Hall of Fame manager. The ballpark was originally the spring training home of the Chicago White Sox. Coincidentally, Al Lopez became the manager of the White Sox in 1957 and spent several spring trainings at a hometown facility named after himself.
The White Sox moved out and the Cincinnati Reds moved in for 1960. The Reds would use Al Lopez Field and the adjacent training facilities (nicknamed "Redsland") as their spring home for almost 30 years. The Tampa Tarpons, the Reds' Class-A team, played in the ballpark during the summer, and several members of Cincinnati's championship-winning "Big Red Machine" such as Pete Rose. Johnny Bench, and Dave Concepción played some of their first professional baseball in Tampa.
The Reds moved to new facilities in nearby Plant City for spring training 1988. The Tarpons played one more season in the ballpark before it was torn down in 1989. To honor its still-living namesake, the city of Tampa changed the name of a nearby park from "Horizon Park" to "Al Lopez Park".
Plant Field was the first large spectator sports facility in the area. It was built in 1889 by Henry B. Plant across the Hillsborough River from Tampa as part of his Tampa Bay Hotel resort. As the only facility of its kind in Central Florida, Plant Field hosted a wide variety of events, including auto and horse racing; pro, college, and high school football; and large political events. It was also the long-time location of the Florida State Fair, and the route of the Gasparilla parade would end on Plant Field's track while the fair was in session.
Plant Field was the original home of the minor league Tampa Smokers, the area's first professional baseball team, and was one of the first spring training sites in Florida, hosting several different teams over the decades. During one of the earliest ballgames in April 1919, Babe Ruth reportedly hit his longest home run - a 587-foot blast that is memorialized with a historical marker at the approximate spot where it landed at the current site of the University of Tampa's school of business.
The University of Tampa took over Plant Field in the early 1970s and renamed it Peppin-Rood Stadium after university benefactors. Since then, the school has built new facilities on its huge footprint, including a soccer field (Peppin Stadium), softball and baseball fields, dormitories, and other academic and athletic facilities. While some of the original playing surface is still in use as part of newer venues, the last remaining portions of Plant Field's old grandstand was torn down in 2002.
Phillips Field was a medium-sized stadium (maximum capacity approximately 20,000) located just north of Plant Field between Cass Street and the current location of Interstate 275 on the west bank of the Hillsborough River. It served as the home for the University of Tampa's football team from 1936 to 1967 and was named after I. W. Phillips, a local businessman who donated the land to the school so that the Spartans would not have to share Plant Field.
Besides "Tampa U" home games, Phillips Field occasionally hosted other football contests. It was the site of the Cigar Bowl, the area's first college bowl game, from 1946 to 1954, and the Florida Gators scheduled several home games at the facility during the 1930s and 1940s. Phillips Field was also the site of several well-attended NFL preseason contests in the mid-1960s that helped Tampa earn an eventual expansion franchise. And local high school rivalry games which attracted crowds too large for the participants' smaller stadiums were played in Phillips Field until the late 1960s, when newly built Tampa Stadium took over that role.
When Tampa Stadium was completed in 1967, the city gave Plant Field to the University of Tampa, and Phillips Field fell into disuse. It was razed in the early 1970s, and Tampa Preparatory School and Julian Lane Riverfront Park were built at its former location.
Curtis Hixon Hall
Curtis Hixon Hall was a multipurpose facility built in 1965 on the banks of the Hillsborough River in downtown Tampa. Along with many concerts. conventions, and special events, Curtis Hixon Hall hosted many professional and amateur boxing and wrestling cards and served as the first home of the University of South Florida's basketball programs and a series of minor league basketball teams.
Curtis Hixon Hall was made obsolete by the construction of newer and larger facilities such as the Ice Palace (now the Amalie Arena), the Sun Dome, and the Tampa Convention Center. It was demolished in 1993 and replaced with Curtis Hixon Park. In 2010, a new Tampa Museum of Art and the Glazer Children’s Museum opened on the site of the old hall, while a redesigned Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park debuted in adjacent open space.
The Bayfront Center (also known as the Bayfront Arena) was a multipurpose facility along the shores of Tampa Bay near downtown St. Petersburg. Though a little larger than Tampa's Curtis Hixon Hall, it was built in the same year (1965) and hosted a similar mix of concerts, sports, and special events. The Tampa Bay Rowdies played most of their home indoor soccer matches in the facility during the 1980s, and a handful of minor league basketball and hockey teams also called it home. Several nationally televised wrestling and boxing events were held there, along with annual Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus TV specials. The Bayfront Center was demolished in 2004, and its former location is now the site of the Salvador Dalí Museum.
Over the years, the Tampa Bay area was home to several professional sports franchises that eventually folded, including many short-lived minor league teams. Major sports teams included:
Tampa Bay Rowdies
The Tampa Bay Rowdies were the first major professional sports team in the area. As such, they were also the first pro franchise to make Tampa Stadium its home field and the first to use "Tampa Bay" in their name. They began play in 1975 as an expansion franchise of the original North American Soccer League (NASL). The Rowdies won the inaugural Soccer Bowl in 1975, bringing Tampa Bay its first professional sports championship, and were successful for most of their existence. The NASL folded in 1984, but the Rowdies continued play in other outdoor and indoor soccer leagues (usually at Tampa Stadium and St. Petersburg's Bayfront Center, respectively) before finally folding in 1993.
A new incarnation of the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the new North American Soccer League took the pitch in 2010. While a licensing dispute forced the franchise to call itself "FC Tampa Bay" for its initial two seasons, the new club used the old club's green and gold color scheme and include a star for the Rowdies' 1975 championship in their team shield The team officially began using the "Rowdies" name for the 2012 season and promptly brought home the Soccer Bowl trophy that October.
Tampa Bay Bandits
The Tampa Bay Bandits of the United States Football League (USFL) played three seasons in Tampa Stadium from 1983 to 1985. With innovative head coach Steve Spurrier and a fan-friendly atmosphere, "Banditball"'s local popularity rivaled that of the more-established Buccaneers, who were in the midst of a streak of 14 straight losing seasons during the Bandits' short existence.
The USFL decided to compete directly with the NFL in 1986 by moving its season from the spring to the fall. But after the failure of an infamous lawsuit, the league folded instead. John Bassett, the principal owner of the Bandits, had opposed the USFL's strategy and planned to make the team a charter member of a new spring league. However, Bassett's failing health prevented this idea from becoming reality. He died from cancer in 1986, and the Bandits would not play another down.
Tampa Bay Mutiny
The Tampa Bay Mutiny was a charter franchise of Major League Soccer. They began play at Tampa Stadium in 1996 and were immediately successful, winning the MLS Supporters' Shield in their inaugural season behind MLS MVP Carlos Valderrama and forward Roy Lassiter, whose 27 goals in 1996 is still the MLS single-season record.
As the team transitioned into Raymond James Stadium for 1999, however, poor personnel moves (including the trading away of both Valderrama and Lassiter) led to decreased win totals which led to decreased fan support. Unable to find local buyers and hampered by an unfavorable lease agreement for Raymond James Stadium, the league folded the franchise in 2001.
List of other defunct teams
- Basketball: Tampa Bay Thrillers, Tampa Bay Strong Dogs, Tampa Bay Sharks, Tampa Bay ThunderDawgs
- Football: Florida Tuskers
- Roller Hockey: Tampa Bay Tritons
- Soccer: Tampa Bay Terror, Tampa Bay Cyclones, Tampa Bay Elite, Tampa Bay Hawks, Tampa Bay Xtreme
- Softball: Tampa Bay FireStix
All time pro franchises
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1976–present||American football||Raymond James Stadium||National Football League||2002 (XXXVII)|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||1992–present||Ice hockey||Amalie Arena||National Hockey League||2004|
|Tampa Bay Rays||Tampa Bay Devil Rays (1998–2007), Tampa Bay Rays (2008–present)||Baseball||Tropicana Field||Major League Baseball-American League||2008 (AL Pennant)|
|Tampa Bay Storm||Pittsburgh Gladiators (1987–1990), Tampa Bay Storm (1991–present)||Arena football||Amalie Arena||Arena Football League||1991 (V), 1993 (VII), 1995 (IX), 1996 (X), 2003 (XVII)|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||2008–present||Soccer||Al Lang Stadium||North American Soccer League||2012|
|Tampa Yankees||1994–present||Baseball||George M. Steinbrenner Field||Florida State League||1994, 2001*, 2004*, 2009, 2010|
|Bay Area Pelicans Rugby Football Club||1977–present||Rugby union||Sawgrass Park||USA Rugby-Florida Rugby Union||The Pelicans have won the Florida Cup several times.|
|Tampa Bay Area Krewe Rugby Football Club||1989–present||Rugby union||Skyview Park||USA Rugby-Florida Rugby Union||Division I: Florida Cup (2010) Division II: National Champion (2010), Rugby South (2009) Division III: Florida Cup (1997, 2008, 2009, 2010)|
|IMG Academy Bradenton||1998–present (formed as Bradenton Academics)||Soccer||IMG Academy||USL Premier Development League|
|Southwest Florida Gladiators||Manasota Stars (?-?), Bradenton Gladiators (2005-2014), Southwest Florida Gladiators (2014–present)||Football||G.T. Bray Park Recreation Center||United Football League of Florida (?-?), (unknown league) (2005-2007), Florida Football Alliance (2008–present)||2001 (UFL Championship as Manasota Stars), Alliance Bowl VIII|
|Tampa Bay Hellenic||2008-2012, 2014–present||Soccer||Ed Radice Sports Complex||Women's Premier Soccer League|
|Tampa Bay Inferno||Tampa Bay Admirals (pre-2010), Tampa Bay Pirates (2010-2011), Tampa Bay Inferno (2012–present)||Skyway Park||Women's American football||Women's Football Alliance|
|Tampa Bay Rebels||2011–present||Basketball||Freedom High School||Florida Basketball Association (2012–2014)||2012|
|West Coast Soldiers||2011–present||Football||Veterans Memorial Park||United Football Federation of America|
|Tampa Bay Irish Sports Club||2011–present||Hurling,
|Gaelic Athletic Association||Tom Mollohan Hurling Invitational (2014)
Florida Cup Gaelic Football (2013)
|Tampa Marauders FC||2012–present||Soccer||Naimoli Family Athletic and Intramural Complex||National Premier Soccer League|
|Tampa Mayhem||2014–present||Rugby league||Larry Sanders Park||USA Rugby League|
|Tampa Bay Starfish FC||2014–present (originally St. Petersburg Starfish FC)||Australian rules football||United States Australian Football League|
|Tampa Tarpons/Bradenton Marauders||Tampa Tarpons (1957-1987), Tampa White Sox (1988), Sarasota White Sox (1989–1993), Sarasota Red Sox (1994–2004), Sarasota Reds (2005–2009), Bradenton Marauders (2010–present)||Baseball||McKechnie Field||Florida State League||1957, 1959, 1961|
|Lakeland Flying Tigers||Lakeland Tigers (1963–2006), Lakeland Flying Tigers (2007–present)||Baseball||Joker Marchant Stadium||Florida State League||1976, 1977, 1992, 2012|
|Dunedin Blue Jays||1987–present||Baseball||Florida Auto Exchange Stadium||Florida State League||1999, 2000, 2003, 2006|
|Clearwater Threshers||Clearwater Phillies (1985–2003), Clearwater Threshers (2004–present)||Baseball||Bright House Field||Florida State League||1993, 2007|
|Sarasota Polo Club||1991–present||Polo||multiple ranches|
|Tampa Bay Tigers (It's unknown if they are the same team as the Bay Area Tigers)||?-present||Football||Elite Amateur Football League (former), Universal Football League (current)|
|Bay Area Tigers (It's unknown if they are the same team as the Tampa Bay Tigers)||Bay Area Tigers (?-?), Central Florida Tigers (?-?)||Football||Florida Football Alliance (former)|
|Tampa Breeze||Tampa Breeze (2009-2012), Jacksonville Breeze (2012–present)||Women's 7-on-7 football||Lingerie Football League (2009-2013), Legends Football League (2013-present)|
|Tampa Bay Patriots||?-present||Football||Florida Football Alliance|
|Tampa Bay Saints||?-present||Basketball||Mary Help of Christians Center||Continental Basketball League (former), Florida Basketball Association (current)|
|St. Petersburg Sabers||?-present||Football||United Football Federation of America|
|Tampa Bay Thunder||?-present||Lacrosse|
|Bradenton Growers||1919-1926||Baseball||McKechnie Field||Florida State League|
|Tampa Smokers||1919-1954||Baseball||Plant Field||Florida State League (1919-1927), Southeastern League (1929-1930), West Coast League (1932), Florida International League (1946-1954)||1920, 1925, 1946, 1949|
|St. Petersburg Saints||1908–1928||Baseball||Coffee Pot Park||Florida State League (1920-1928)||1922|
|St. Petersburg Saints||St. Petersburg Saints (1947–1965), St. Petersburg Cardinals (1966–1996), St. Petersburg Devil Rays (1997–2000)||Baseball||Al Lang Field||Florida International League (1947–1954), Florida State League (1955–2000)||1951, 1958, 1959, 1967, 1973, 1975, 1986, 1997|
|Tampa Cardinals||1926: Tampa Cardinals (game 1), Haven-Villas (game 2), St. Petersburg Cardinals (game 3-4), Lena Vistas (game 5)||American football||Plant Field, Adair Park, and others||Independent|
|Haven-Villa of Winter Haven||1926||American football||Winter Haven High School||Independent|
|Tampa Rockets||1940s?||Baseball||Florida State Negro League|
|St. Petersburg Pelicans||1940s-1950s?||Baseball||Campbell Park||Florida State Negro Baseball League|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||1975-1993||Soccer||North American Soccer League (1975–1984), American Indoor Soccer Association (1986–1987), American Soccer League (1988–1989), American Professional Soccer League (1990–1993)||1975, 1976, 1979-1980|
|Dunedin Blue Jays||1978-1979||Baseball||Grant Field||Florida State League|
|Tampa Bay Bandits||1983-1986||Football||Tampa Stadium||United States Football League|
|St. Petersburg Pelicans||1989-1990||Baseball||Al Lang Stadium||Senior Professional Baseball Association||1989|
|Bradenton Explorers||1989-1990||Baseball||Jackie Robinson Ballpark||Senior Professional Baseball Association|
|Tampa RFC||?-?||Rugby Union|
|Tampa Bay Tritons||1994||Roller hockey||Expo Hall||Roller Hockey International|
|Tampa Bay Terror||1995-1997||Indoor soccer||Bayfront Center||National Professional Soccer League|
|Tampa Bay Cyclones||Tampa Bay Cyclones(1995-1996), Jacksonville Cyclones (1996-1999)||Soccer||USISL Pro League (1995), USISL Select League (1996), USISL A-League (1997-1998), USL A-League (1997-1998)|
|Tampa Bay Mutiny||1995-2001||Soccer||Raymond James Stadium||Major League Soccer||1996 (Supporters' Shield)|
|Tampa Bay FireStix||1997-?||Softball||Women's Pro Fastpitch (1997-1998), Women's Professional Softball League (1998-?)||1999|
|Tampa Bay Xtreme (AKA Tampa Bay Extreme)||1997-2002)||Soccer||W-League|
|Tampa Bay ThunderDawgs||2000-2001||Basketball||Bayfront Center Arena||American Basketball Association|
|Tampa Bay Bulldogs||?-?||Football||Southeast Football League|
|Tampa Bay Hawks||2000-2002||Soccer||Putnam Park||USL Premier Development League|
|Florida Redbacks||2003-2014||Australian rules football||United States Australian Football League-Eastern Australian Football League|
|Tampa Bay Strong Dogs||Harlem Revs (2004), Harlem Strong Dogs (2004-2006), Tampa Bay Strong Dogs (2006)||Basketball||Bob Martinez Sports Center||American Basketball Association|
|Bradenton Athletics||2004-2008||Soccer||IMG Soccer Academy||USL W-League|
|Lakeland Thunderbolts||2005-2007||Indoor Football||Lakeland Center||National Indoor Football League (2005-2006), American Indoor Football Association (2007)|
|Tampa Bay Sharks||2005-2010||Basketball||Bob Martinez Sports Center||Touring team (2005-2010), American Basketball Association (scheduled to begin in the 2010-2011 season but never played in any games)|
|Tampa Bay Elite||2005-2007||Soccer||Women's Premier Soccer League|
|Florida Scorpions||Sarasota Knights (2008), Florida Knights (2007), Florida Scorpions (2011)||Football||Manatee Civic Center||National Indoor Football League (2008), American Professional Football League (2008, 2011)|
|Florida Tuskers||Florida Tuskers (2009-2010), Virginia Destroyers (2011-2012)||Football||United Football League||2011 (As the Virginia Destroyers)|
|VisionPro Sports Institute Tampa Bay Football Club (Men's League)||2011-2013||Soccer||Plant City Stadium||USL Pro|
|VisionPro Sports Institute Tampa Bay Football Club (Women's League)||2011-2013||Soccer||Plant City Stadium||W-League|
|VisionPro Sports Institute Tampa Bay Football Club (PDL)||2011-2013||Soccer||Plant City Stadium||USL Premier Development League|
|Tampa Bay Curling Club (AKA Florida Curling Club)||2010-2014||Curling||Independent|
|Florida Marine Raiders||Lakeland Raiders (2012–2013), Florida Marine Raiders (2014–2015)||Indoor Football||Lakeland Center||Ultimate Indoor Football League (2012-2013), X-League Indoor Football (2014-2015)||X-Bowl I|
|Sarasota Thunder||2012-2013||Indoor Football||Robarts Arena||Ultimate Indoor Football League|
- Thunderdome Was Built But They Haven't Come - Orlando Sentinel
- Jpg=4976%2C4776597 "At Last, Tampa Bay has its baseball team" - Ocala Star-Banner (March 10, 1995)
- "Baseball committee picks Miami, Denver" - Sarasota Herald-Tribune, June 11, 1991
- History of Tampa Bay Baseball at raysbaseball.com
- Florida Grapefruit League history
- University of South Florida - Celebrating 50 Years of Success
- AFL Arena Football History - Year By Year - 2010 | ArenaFan.com
- Stadium Jumping
- Led Zeppelin - Official Website
- Led Zeppelin - Official Website
- Raymond James Stadium project a reminder of the Glazers' sweetheart deal | Tampa Bay Buccaneers blog: Bucs Beat | tampabay.com & St. Petersburg Times
- AL LOPEZ PARK Page 3
- Plant Field, Tampa
- "Babe's Longest Homer" Marker, Tampa, Florida
- Tampa Spartans facilities
- "Peppin-Rood grandstands going down in history" - St. Pete Times, May 1, 2002
- Interview with A.C. Howell
- Breakfast Bonus - Tom McEwen Sports - from TBO.com Blogs
- Breakfast Bonus - Tom McEwen Sports - from TBO.com Blogs
- FC Tampa Bay sheds ‘Rowdies’ - Tampa Bay Business Journal
- Breakfast Bonus - Tom McEwen - Tools - from TBO.com Blogs
- The Tampa Bay Bandits don't know where they'll play in - 06.03.85 - SI Vault
- "MLS fold Mutiny" - St. Pete Times
- "Mutiny Renews Lease" - St. Pete Times
- "Miami, Tampa fight to keep MLS teams" - Sports Illustrated Dec. 2001