There’s a reason they’re calling it Champa Bay. Recently, Tampa Bay has had an incredible run in professional sports, with many a victory tour held along the Riverwalk. From the Bucs to the Bolts, Tampa Bay sports fans have a lot to cheer about, and the future only looks brighter.
Tampa Bay is home to three professional sports teams, the NFL’s Buccaneers, the MLB’s Rays, and the NHL’s Lightning. It’s also a hot spot for spring training, with at least six major league baseball teams spending their March in Tampa Bay.
As far as franchises go, Tampa Bay teams are all relatively young. The Buccaneers came along in 1976, losing every single game of their first season and only getting their first W 13 weeks into their second season. In 2021 they won their second Super Bowl so, how’s that for a Cinderella story?
The Tampa Bay Lightning came next, joining the NHL in 1992 as an expansion team. Over a decade later, the franchise held the Stanley Cup for the first time, only to do it again in 2020 and 2021, one of eight teams to go back.
The youngest team in Tampa Bay are the Rays, hitting homers in Tropicana Field since 1998. The Devil Rays resulted from three decades of petitioning to get a major league baseball team in the area. In a short period of play, the team has managed to post some impressive records, with two AL pennants and four East Division titles.
While the Rays are still fighting for that first championship ring, the Bucs and the Lightning are doing just fine, giving the city its reputation for bringing home the bacon.
While the city has enjoyed the many successes of its pro teams, Tampa has played host to several defunct or folded teams. The St. Petersburg Pelicans played in the Senior Professional Baseball Association in the late ’90s. A few years earlier, the Tampa Bay Bandits played three seasons of football with the USFL. Real Tampa Bay fans will remember the Tampa Bay Tritons, a roller hockey team that played in the Expo Hall for all of its very short life.