Add another trophy to the case. Tampa has been named the Best Sports City of 2021 following a superlative-filled year of titles and accomplishments in Champa Bay.
The annual award from the Sports Business Journal recognized the string of successes in Tampa and the entire Tampa Bay area while also pointing out the support the cities gave to teams and leagues across the country (and even two outside of it).
Certainly, the highlights came in the two major championships won in 2021, starting with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl back in February and followed up by the Tampa Bay Lightning’s second-straight NHL title. SBJ also gave credit to the Tampa Bay Rays for winning the AL East, and all of that goes without even diving into the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ absolutely dominant run to their first-ever USL Championship this fall.
Hospitality from the city and area locals gave Tampa an edge
However, SBJ gave Tampa high marks for more than just winning games. As they pointed out, the city welcomed the Toronto Raptors as they called Amalie Arena home for the majority of their season while restrictions prevented them from playing in Canada. Ditto for the Toronto Blue Jays who called Dunedin home for the second year in a row until restrictions were lifted in July.
And of course, it wasn’t just that the Bucs played in (and won) Super Bowl LV. It’s that Tampa hosted the whole thing, and would have put on the show no matter who was playing. In doing so, the city set a record for fan engagement as it welcomed 34,831 fans per session at the Super Bowl Experience, SBJ reported.
Even wrestling helped add to Tampa’s scorecard after it hosted WrestleMania 37, pro wrestling’s biggest event of the year.
All of this, SBJ said, made it clear that Tampa was the Best Sports City in America this year. Hosting the Super Bowl was the highlight, but the well of accomplishments in 2021 ran deep for Champa Bay.
“It would be easy to look at the titles and conclude that all that hardware was the reason why Tampa is our choice as the Best Sports City of 2021,” the article states. “But Tampa did more than just burnish its growing reputation as a city of champions. It also hosted two of the sports industry’s biggest events … And it even hosted teams that weren’t its own.”