Tampa is currently on a sports run for the ages. Since September, the city has sent not one, not two, not three, but four different teams into a championship game. Four in a six-month span HAS to be some sort of record, right?
A win from the Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV all but seals Tampa’s case as the best sports town in the entire country right now (in terms of winning). While sure, Bovada — a sportsbook with one of the highest number of online sports betting reviews — has Tampa as the big game’s underdogs, we wouldn’t count out that guy named Tom Brady to deliver a second title to the city in under a year.
We know Tampa has never been associated with winning sports town, but things change, as they did starting in 2020. Don’t believe us? Here’s how the shift toward sports glory happened seemingly overnight.
Brady Picks Tampa
March 20, 2020 — the day that changed Tampa sports.
The date marks when Brady — a six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback — chose to sign with the Buccaneers, and the keyword being “chose.” Seriously, Brady had his pick at which NFL franchise to sign with. Yet he latched onto the Buccaneers, a team not known for luring big-name free agents.
Brady entering the equation changed the dynamic of not only the Bucs, but the whole city. A pro athlete of his notoriety had never called Tampa home until that fateful March day.
And obviously, Brady didn’t just bring hype to the shores of Tampa, he brought a winning culture, too. After failing to make the postseason for 13 straight years, the Bucs now find themselves in the Super Bowl with Brady being the biggest difference-maker.
Lightning Start The Trend
While Brady began the sports momentum in Tampa, the NHL’s Lightning kicked everything into high gear. The team withstood setback after setback related to the COVID-19 pandemic to lift the 2020 Stanley Cup trophy in September. The title was the first major championship for the city since the Bucs back in 2003.
The Lightning’s win was sweet vindication after an epic collapse in 2019. Back then, it tied the NHL single-season record for wins only to be swept out of the playoffs’ first round. The stark contrast between the team’s 2019 and 2020 campaigns very much mirrors the whole city’s transformation into a sports town in the same period.
Not far removed from the Lightning’s epic victory, the city followed with two more championship appearances. First, it was the MLB Rays, earning only its second World Series berth in franchise history.
After them, it was USL’s Rowdies. Though, in a weird twist of fate, the soccer league cancelled the championship matchup before it was ever played as Tampa had to settle for conference champions only. But hey, we count that as a banner nonetheless.
If Not Tampa, Then Who Else?
If you’ve read this far, it’s abundantly clear that Tampa sports have reigned supreme over the last year. But surely, you’re thinking to yourself, “but hasn’t there been another US city just as successful?”
Honestly, no. The only other city that can make an argument is Los Angeles. La-La Land can claim two sports champions this past year — the Dodgers and Lakers.
We’ll give the Dodgers its due. It’s MLB title-win did come against Tampa’s own Rays. But in the same token, Tampa doesn’t have an NBA franchise, which makes the Lakers banner a little less comparable.
Regardless, LA’s double-championship win year makes the looming Super Bowl so important. With a Bucs ‘W, the two cities are tied at two trophies a piece in America’s “Big Four” sporting leagues. And in a tiebreaker situation, you’d have to give Tampa the edge for sending an additional two teams into the title matchup — a claim LA lacks.
With that said, all the pressure now lies on the Buccaneers. A win against the Chiefs and Tampa is the undisputed sports city champion for the first time ever. A loss and well, Tampa, still has a strong — albeit disputed — case as the best city for sports in all of the United States presently.