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 Posted: Wed Oct 7th, 2020 05:06 am
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carpetbeggar
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Anyone here live in, from, have roots in, or just generally knowledgeable about, Tampa Bay sports fandom?

Is there an NBA team that gets widespread support there ?Are they a Heat town, or Magic town?Before the NBA came to Florida did The Atlanta Hawks have a big fan base down there.

Just thinking, why was Florida so slow in getting MLB and NBA teams?Was it just so big of a football, mainly college, state that the people of Florida just had no interest in anything else?Too many transplants that would only go to games when their hometown team was in town?

I have a feeling Tamalie will have a lot of good insight into this. Something tells me we may have discussed this topic before, but Mr. Searchy is not my friend.

So long from the Sunshine State.

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 Posted: Thu Oct 8th, 2020 10:09 pm
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tamalie
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I have a few ideas about this, all centered around the theory that it was many things rather than one thing that led Florida to getting big time pro sports rather late, with the exception of the NFL, in comparison to other markets.

- Florida's permanent resident population has significantly increased since the 1980s, but when pro sports were in their most active expansion modes during the 1960s and 1970s, it wasn't nearly as large and there were many retirees that came down for the winter and then went north again as spring set in. I think the perception was that these fans weren’t around enough to make a difference.

- On the topic of attendance, metro Orlando had barely more than 500,000 people in it in 1970. By 1980, it was up to almost 805,000, still very small by big league sports metro areas, especially because Florida had enough big cities that fans from one would not necessarily support a team in another just on the basis of being the home state team. The Tampa Bay area had about 1,100,000 in 1970 and about 1,600,000 by 1980. The Miami metro area had about 2,200,000 in 1970 and about 3,200,000 by 1980.

- In the case of MLB, I think Florida being spring training central hurt it for getting an MLB team.

- You need to have a place to play. Miami and Orlando only got NBA teams in the late 1980s by building what were pretty basic arenas by the standards of the time. Prior to that, there wasn’t a big league 15,000 plus capacity arena in literally the entire state of Florida. Miami Beach Convention Center held 12,000 or so in its largest set up. None of the civic arenas around the state were close to that big. No team, new or relocated, was going to Florida to play in a minor league facility. The state of Florida had no MLB level stadiums until what we now know as Tropicana Field and Hard Rock Stadium were built.

- On the topic of the former stadium and the Tampa Bay market, they got jerked around a lot, similar to how the NFL teams used to dangle Los Angeles when in need of a new or improved stadium. What became the Trop was getting discussed with the idea that the Twins would go Tampa Bay in 1985, but new local ownership kept the team in Minnesota. The White Sox were supposed to be on the way by 1988, at which point the stadium was under construction, but the state of Illinois agreed to build New Comiskey. The Mariners were supposedly on the way circa 1991, but a deal was worked out to keep them in Seatte. 

The Trop was considered a shoe in to get one of the two 1993 NL expansion teams, but Denver was joined by Miami instead in what was considered a massive upset. As the 1992 season was coming to a close, the Giants were considered a mortal lock to be in Tampa by 1993. It took a major last ditch effort to find new owners to keep the team in the Bay Area. It wasn’t until the mid 1990s that the 1998 expansion that created the Rays occurred, by which time stadiums like the Trop were out of style.

- This isn’t a fair way to judge whether or not the Miami area could support an NBA team, but there was an ABA team there from 1968-69 through 1971-72 and attendance for the Floridians was embarrassingly bad. Not many NBA teams were on the move between that span and the Heat starting up in 1988-89, but the ABA team’s poor fan support would not have inspired the owner of a struggling NBA team to look at Miami as a market.

- Bucs attendance was terrible for much of the time, although the team was admittedly horrible except for that 1979-82 bounce. The Dolphins were known for having okay, but not great attendance by NFL standards, even when they were really good. For all of the mystique about The U, the Hurricanes would sellout for FSU and when they played the likes of Notre Dame and Penn State, but for run of the mill games you could walk up moments before kickoff and buy thousands of tickets. The announced attendance was 30,325 for the famous Black Friday game against Boston College in 1984 with the Doug Flutie miracle TD pass. It was early on for Miami’s dynasty, but they were the defending National Champions and had a good season with lots of future NFL players. I think the perception was that Florida teams just couldn’t draw.

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 Posted: Thu Oct 8th, 2020 10:20 pm
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tamalie
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To add to the above, my cousin has lived in Orlando since he was preschool age. His family moved there when my uncle got a job opportunity that could not be passed up. He's effectively a native Floridian. 

His take on the support for NFL teams in Orlando is that long term locals generally support the Dolphins. When the Bucs were terrible, no one cared about them. Around their Super Bowl run, Bucs fans appeared from thin air in decent numbers and when the team got bad again, all of those fans vanished. No one has ever cared about the Jags. 

With so many people moving to Orlando from elsewhere, lots of people still support the team they have long rooted for, even if it's a long ways away. Sunday Ticket lets fans keep rooting for their teams in a way you couldn't before it came along. He also notes there are plenty of fans of the usual suspects (Cowboys, Packers, Patriots, 49ers, Raiders, etc.) as well as bandwagon jumpers for whatever team is hot at the moment. 

Sunday Ticket also enables young fans to pick a team without regard to geography, so between that and the Dolphins being so bad for so long, the Phins don't enjoy as much support as they did 20 years ago and further back.

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 Posted: Fri Oct 9th, 2020 12:52 am
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carpetbeggar
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Thank you Tamalie for the responses. I am going to sit down and read them through when I get home in a couple of hours.

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 Posted: Fri Oct 9th, 2020 02:55 am
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KGB

 

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Does one still see Tampa Bay Bandits clothing? It was said they were still more popular than the Bucs for years after the USFL folded.



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 Posted: Fri Oct 9th, 2020 03:15 am
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Benlen



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Last edited on Fri Oct 9th, 2020 03:29 am by Benlen



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 Posted: Fri Oct 9th, 2020 06:57 am
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carpetbeggar
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Great response Tamalie, a lot of info in there that I never knew, and/or totally forgot about. For the life of me I don't remember The White Sox almost moving in '88, and totally forgot all about The Giants in '92.

I would love to take a look at various census' or population studies around Florida for the 60's and 70's.


And KGB, The Bandits totally slipped my mind...were they out drawing the Bucs by a big margin?

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 Posted: Sun Oct 11th, 2020 08:56 pm
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tamalie
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I’ll dig up the precise attendance numbers later, but while the Bandits drew very well and got close, they never outdrew the Bucs on a yearly average attendance basis. There might have been some individual games when the Bandits drew bigger crowds. It’s important to note that Buccaneers tickets cost considerably more than Bandits tickets, so if the two teams drew a similar sized crowd, the Bucs would get much more revenue.

The Bandits had an exciting offense and were a winning team. The Bucs were horrendous, mainly due to losing Doug Williams to the USFL following a contract dispute. With Williams, the Bucs went 5-4 in the strike shortened 1982 season just before the inaugural USFL season. Without Williams, the Bucs went 2-14 in 1983, 6-10 in 1984, and 2-14 in 1985, plus 2-14 in 1986 when the USFL planned to run a fall season. The Bandits went 11-7 in 1983, 14-4 in 1984, and 10-8 in 1985.

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 Posted: Mon Oct 12th, 2020 07:58 pm
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tamalie
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I was wrong. The Bandits did outdraw the Bucs in a couple of seasons. There is a bit of an asterisk, however.

The NFL at the time gave attendance figures based on the turnstile count, rather than tickets sold. The NFL also announced no shows. For instance, the Falcons had a 9-5 record in 1973, going 8-2 after a 1-3 start. There was big optimism for 1974 and the team sold out for the season before it began. However, the team had a 3-11 meltdown. The final home game drew 10,020 actual fans through the gates, but was sold out. Newspapers had the attendance and a no show count of 48,830.

So we have the Bucs' turnstile counts, but not tickets sold. I don't know how the Bandits and the USFL derived attendance figures.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1982 – 65-859
1983 – 49,802
1984 – 45,357
1985 – 38,753
1986 – 40,081

Tampa Bay Bandits
1983 - 39,911
1984 - 46,158
1985 - 43,961

The 1982 Bucs season was just before the USFL started play in early 1983. The Bucs had just made the playoffs for the third time in four seasons. The 1986 season would have run against a USFL fall season had that league not suspended operations after it failed to get a big judgment from its antitrust case against the NFL.

The Bandits made the playoffs in 1984 and 1985, narrowly missing them in 1983 after losing three of their last four games.

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 Posted: Mon Oct 12th, 2020 08:26 pm
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Erick Von Erich

 

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I remember the SF Giants to Tampa thing. ESPN (I think) aired their last game of the 1992 season and stated something like: "this will be the last time the Giants will take the field in San Francisco". Then about a few months later, they get new ownership, sign Barry Bonds, and I think their new stadium deal was even in there.

My college roommate in 1992 loved Tampa for whatever reason. He would not shut up about the Tampa Bay Storm (Arena Football). What was their popularity like? I was into Arena Ball for about a year or two, and I remember they were pretty good. According to my roommate, they were more popular than sex.



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 Posted: Tue Oct 13th, 2020 01:42 am
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Why are all the teams "Tampa Bay" instead of just "Tampa"?



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 Posted: Tue Oct 13th, 2020 08:49 pm
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Erick Von Erich

 

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BuddyPSHayes wrote: Why are all the teams "Tampa Bay" instead of just "Tampa"?I'm guessing: but I think it's so they can have "regional appeal" and also apply to St. Petersburg. As well as all the other, smaller, towns in between the two.
Thus, when the Rays built Tropicana Field, over in St. Petersburg and not Tampa, the team name still worked. It prevents some wisenheimer from saying stuff like: "yuk, yuk, they're really the New Jersey Giants".



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 Posted: Tue Oct 13th, 2020 09:08 pm
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tamalie
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That is it exactly. Tampa Bay makes it a team for the whole region. It's why the Vikings, Twins, Timberwolves, and Wild all have Minnesota as their geographic designation rather than Minneapolis for the first three and St. Paul for the fourth. It promotes the team as being for the whole state and keeps the petty rivalries from getting in the way. The Arizona Cardinals were once the Phoenix Cardinals and the Arizona Coyotes were once the Phoenix Coyotes. Both teams switched to representing the entire state so that potential fans outside of Phoenix would not be put off.

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