There is a seemingly endless array of professional and collegiate sports happening in Tampa. Although the local Major League Baseball team—the Tampa Bay Rays—plays across the bay in St. Petersburg, stickball fans can get their fix watching New York Yankees spring training (www.legendsfieldtampa.com) in February and March at George M. Steinbrenner Field (1 Steinbrenner Dr., 813/879-2244).
The National Football League’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers (www.buccaneers.com) play in Raymond James Stadium (4201 N. Dale Mabry Hwy., 813/350-6500) August–January underneath the shadow of a giant replica pirate ship.
The stadium also hosts the annual New Years Day Outback Bowl (www.outbackbowl.com), which pits football teams from the Southeastern Conference and Big Ten Conference against each other; August–November, the University of South Florida Bulls (www.gosfbulls.com) play their Big East conference games in the stadium as well. The stadium has hosted two Super Bowl games, in 2001 and 2009.
Ice hockey fans can catch 2004 Stanley Cup winners Tampa Bay Lightning (http://lightning.nhl.com) October–May at the St. Pete Times Forum (401 Channelside Dr., 813/301-6500). The Tampa Bay Storm (www.tampabaystorm.com, Jan.–May), the area’s Arena Football League team, plays at the Forum as well. January through March, Krewe Rugby (http://krewerugby.com) plays public home games at Sky View Park (6203 S. Martindale Ave.) in southwest Tampa.
Not actually much of a beach, Ben T. Davis Beach is the sandiest waterside spot in the city. The small park offers picnic tables, grills, volleyball nets, a tiny little area to wade into the bay, and a few hundred feet of sand to lounge on. Nonetheless, this spot at the foot of the Courtney Campbell Parkway, which connects Tampa and Clearwater, is usually quite vacant on weekdays, save for a few fishermen, making it an ideal spot for sunset-watching or just decompressing.
For more active engagements with the water, Channelside Watersports Rentals (700 S. Florida Ave., 813/226-2628, 9 a.m.–7 p.m. daily) at the Marriott Waterside Marina downtown has boats, WaveRunners, and kayaks available for hourly, half-day, or full-day rental.
TPC Tampa Bay (5300 W. Lutz Lake Fern Rd., Lutz, 813/949-0090, www.tpctampabay.com, first start time 7 a.m., $62–99) is located outside of town but is worth the drive for duffers who want to take a swing at this par-71 Bobby Weed–designed PGA Tour Club course.
Westchase Golf Club (11602 Westchase Golf Dr., 813/854-2331, info [at] westchasegc [dot] com, www.westchasegc.com, first start time 7 a.m., $29–59) is in north Tampa and offers a 6,710-yard par-72 course designed by Lloyd Clifton. Both of these public facilities offer online tee-time reservations.
© Jason Ferguson from Moon Florida, 1st Edition