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Sports in Florida

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Daytona International Speedway is home to various auto racing events
Daytona International Speedway is home to various auto racing events

The U.S. state of Florida has three National Football League teams, two Major League Baseball teams, two National Basketball Association teams, two National Hockey League teams, two Major League Soccer teams and 13 NCAA Division I college teams.

Florida gained its first permanent major-league professional sports team in 1966 when the American Football League added the Miami Dolphins. The state of Florida has given professional sports franchises some subsidies in the form of tax breaks since 1991.[1]

By sport

American football

Miami's first entry into the American Football League was the Miami Dolphins, which competed in the fourth AFL league from 1966 to 1969. In 1970 the Dolphins joined the National Football League when the AFL–NFL merger, agreed to in 1966, was finalized. The team made its first Super Bowl appearance in Super Bowl VI, but lost to the Dallas Cowboys. The following year, the Dolphins completed the NFL's only perfect season culminating in a Super Bowl win. The 1972 Dolphins were the third NFL team to accomplish a perfect regular season, and won Super Bowl VIII, Miami also appeared in Super Bowl XVII and Super Bowl XIX, losing both games.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers began in 1976 as an expansion team of the NFL. They struggled at first, losing their first 26 games in a row to set a league record for futility. After a brief taste of success in the late 1970s, the Bucs again returned to their losing ways, and at one point lost 10+ games for 12 seasons in a row. The hiring of Tony Dungy in 1996 started an improving trend that eventually led to the team's victory in Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003 under coach Jon Gruden. Tampa has hosted four Super Bowls: Super Bowl XVIII (1984), Super Bowl XXV (1991), Super Bowl XXXV (2001), Super Bowl XLIII (2009), and Super Bowl LV (2020). The first two events were held at Tampa Stadium, and the other three at Raymond James Stadium. In Super Bowl LV, the Bucs became the first NFL team to host and play in the Super Bowl, where they defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9.

The Jacksonville Jaguars joined the NFL as an expansion team in the 1995 season; they play their home games at EverBank Field.[2] In 2005, Jacksonville hosted Super Bowl XXXIX.

The Tampa Bay Vipers began play in the XFL in February 2020; they play their home games at Raymond James Stadium.

The World Football League featured the Florida Blazers, Jacksonville Sharks and Jacksonville Express, whereas the United States Football League included the Tampa Bay Bandits, Jacksonville Bulls and Orlando Renegades. The Orlando Rage played in the original XFL in 2001, and the Orlando Apollos played in the Alliance of American Football in 2019.

The Orange Bowl is a major college football bowl, held at the Miami metropolitan area since 1935, currently as a member of the College Football Playoff. The Miami metro area has hosted the Super Bowl a total of eleven times (six Super Bowls at Hard Rock Stadium, including Super Bowl LIV and five at the Miami Orange Bowl), tying New Orleans for the most games.[citation needed]

Camping World Stadium (the former Citrus Bowl stadium) hosts three annual college football bowl games: the Citrus Bowl since 1947, the Camping World Bowl since 2001, and the Cure Bowl since 2015.

Jacksonville hosts the Florida–Georgia game, an annual college football game between the University of Florida and the University of Georgia since 1933, as well as the Gator Bowl, a post-season college bowl game since 1946.


The Miami Marlins of Major League Baseball began play in the 1993 season. They won the World Series in both seasons they qualified for the postseason, doing so in 1997 and 2003.

The Tampa Bay Rays began playing in 1998 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. After a decade of futility, the Rays won the 2008 American League Pennant and made it to the World Series. The team won the 2020 AL Pennant and made it back to the World Series but lost to the Dodgers in Game 7.

About half of all Major League Baseball teams conduct spring training in the state, with teams informally organized into the "Grapefruit League". Throughout MLB history, other teams have held spring training in Florida.

Several Major League baseball teams conduct spring training in the state, and most also operate minor league teams in the Low-A Southeast.


Before Florida had its first NBA franchise, the Miami Floridians, later in their history known as The Floridians, played in the American Basketball Association from 1968 through 1972.

The Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association was formed in 1988 as an expansion team. They have won three league championships (in 2006, 2012 and 2013), plus six conference titles.

The Orlando Magic began playing in NBA in 1989 as an expansion franchise. They have won the Eastern Conference championships in 1995 and 2009.

In 2020, the NBA decided to finish the delayed NBA season in a bubble in the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida. All of the teams relocated to Walt Disney World and played their games there.

Due to the travel restricts derived from the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Toronto Raptors temporarily relocated to Tampa, playing their home games at Amalie Arena.

Florida also had two WNBA teams: the Orlando Miracle (1999-2002) and Miami Sol (2000-2002).

Ice hockey

The Miami Screaming Eagles co-founded the World Hockey Association in 1971, but never played due to a lack of a suitable arena.

The Florida Panthers of the National Hockey League was founded in 1993 as an expansion team. It originally played at the Miami Arena, and moved to the BB&T Center in 1998. They have made one appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996.

The Tampa Bay Lightning was established in 1992, and currently play their home games in the Amalie Arena, located in downtown Tampa. In 2004, the team won their first Stanley Cup. In the [2019–20 Tampa Bay Lightning season] the Lightning won their second Stanley Cup. The Lightning made the Eastern Conference Final in 2011 and were Eastern Conference Champions in 2015. They returned to the Eastern Conference Final in 2016. They won the Stanly Cup in 2020's shortened season due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Florida has three ECHL minor hockey league teams—the Florida Everblades, Jacksonville Icemen, and Orlando Solar Bears.


Two metro areas in Florida — Orlando and Miami — field a Major League Soccer team as well as other professional soccer teams. The Tampa area formerly fielded an MLS team, and today has a minor league professional team.

After over a decade without an MLS team, Orlando City SC joined the league in 2015 after five seasons as a second-level team. The team played its first two MLS seasons at the venue now known as Camping World Stadium before opening Orlando City Stadium, now known as Exploria Stadium, in 2017. Orlando City's reserve side, Orlando City B, began play in the league now known as the USL Championship in 2016, suspended play after the 2017 season, and resumed play in 2019 as a founding member of the third-level USL League One. In 2016, the Orlando Pride, operated by Orlando City, began play in the National Women's Soccer League. They have played at the same venue as their parent club throughout their history ever since.

Miami's MLS team, Inter Miami CF, is owned by David Beckham and began league play in 2020. Inter Miami placed its own reserve side in USL League One in 2020. Miami's other professional team, Miami FC, was founded in 2016 and currently play in the USL Championship. The team initially played in the North American Soccer League, then transitioned into the National Premier Soccer League, before a season in the National Independent Soccer Association, before making the jump to the Division II USL where it plays today. The Miami Fusion played in MLS from 1998 to 2001, winning the Supporters' Shield in their last season before folding.

The Tampa Bay Rowdies, founded in 2008 as F.C. Tampa Bay, currently play in the USL Championship (known before 2019 as the United Soccer League), joining the league after leaving the North American Soccer League in 2016. In this time, they've won one championship in the 2012 North American Soccer League season.

Tampa Bay previously fielded two Division I soccer teams. The Tampa Bay Rowdies of the original North American Soccer League began play in 1975, drawing good crowds and winning Soccer Bowl '75, but the team and the league ultimately folded. The Tampa Bay Mutiny operated in MLS from the league's inaugural 1996 season until the team folded after the 2001 MLS season.


NASCAR (headquartered in Daytona Beach) begins all three of its major auto racing series in Florida at Daytona International Speedway in February, featuring the Daytona 500, and ends all three Series in November at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Daytona also has the Coke Zero 400 NASCAR race weekend around Independence Day in July. The 24 Hours of Daytona is one of the world's most prestigious endurance auto races.

The 12 Hours of Sebring sports car endurance race is the second largest sporting event in the State of Florida. Each year drawing a total of over 100,000+ fans. It is held in Sebring, Florida at the Sebring International Raceway on the third week of March each year. It is one of the most prestigious car races in the world. Sebring International Raceway's legendary 12-hour endurance race was voted the fourth best auto race of the world's motorsports races in the USAToday 10Best competition. First run in 1952, the world's leading drivers and manufacturers have competed at the 12 Hours of Sebring for over six decades. The race attracts drivers and fans from all over the world.

The Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and Grand Prix of Miami have held IndyCar races as well.

The Gainesville Raceway hosts the annual Gatornationals, one of the major NHRA drag events.

Other sports

The PGA of America is headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, the PGA Tour is headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, and the LPGA is headquartered in Daytona Beach.

The Players Championship, WGC-Cadillac Championship, Arnold Palmer Invitational, Honda Classic and Valspar Championship are PGA Tour rounds.

The Miami Open is an ATP Tour Masters 1000 and WTA Premier Mandatory tennis event, whereas the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships is an ATP World Tour 250 event.

Florida is a major horse and greyhound racing market. Notable horse racetracks include Gulfstream Park, Calder, Hialeah Park, Pompano Park and Tampa Bay Downs, whereas notable greyhound racetracks include Big Easy Casino and Derby Lane.

Minor league sports

Several minor league baseball, football, basketball, soccer and indoor football teams are based in Florida.

Previously, the Arena Football League had four different teams in Florida: the Florida Bobcats (1993-2001), Orlando Predators (1991-2016), Tampa Bay Storm (1991-2017) and Jacksonville Sharks (2010-2016).

College sports

Florida's universities have a number of National Collegiate Athletic Association programs, especially the Florida State Seminoles and Miami Hurricanes of the Atlantic Coast Conference, and the Florida Gators of the Southeastern Conference. Other notable college teams are the Florida Atlantic Owls, FIU Panthers, UCF Knights and South Florida Bulls.

By metro area


Miami's main four sports teams are the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League, the Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association, the Miami Marlins of Major League Baseball, and the Florida Panthers of the National Hockey League. Miami is also the home to Inter Miami CF, the Major League Soccer expansion team led by David Beckham.

Previously, the Miami Sol played at the Women's National Basketball Association from 2000 to 2002.

Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay is represented by three major sports teams: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League, the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League, and the Tampa Bay Rays of MLB, but is also home to USL Championship's Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL.


Orlando is the home city of two major league professional sports teams — the Orlando Magic of the National Basketball Association (NBA), and Orlando City SC of Major League Soccer (MLS). Also, the Orlando Pride has competed in the National Women's Soccer League since 2016.

Orlando also has two minor league professional teams — the Orlando Solar Bears ECHL ice hockey team, and the Orlando Anarchy of the Women's Football Alliance. From 1991 to 2016, it was also home to the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League and during 2019 it was home of the Orlando Apollos of the Alliance of American Football.

From 1999 to 2002, the Orlando Miracle competed in the Women's National Basketball Association before relocating to the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut as the Connecticut Sun.

Orlando's sports teams have collectively won two ArenaBowls (1998, 2000), two titles in ice hockey, three titles in minor league baseball, and two titles in soccer.


Jacksonville is home to one major league sports team, the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League (NFL).


Major league professional teams

Team League Venue Location Founded Championships
Florida Panthers National Hockey League BB&T Center Sunrise 1993 0
Inter Miami CF Major League Soccer Inter Miami CF Stadium (temporary)
Miami Freedom Park (future)
Fort Lauderdale (temporary)
Miami (future)
2018 0
Jacksonville Jaguars National Football League TIAA Bank Field Jacksonville 1995 0
Miami Dolphins National Football League Hard Rock Stadium Miami Gardens 1966 2 (1972, 1973)
Miami Heat National Basketball Association American Airlines Arena Miami 1988 3 (2006, 2012, 2013)
Miami Marlins Major League Baseball Marlins Park Miami 1993 2 (1997, 2003)
Orlando City SC Major League Soccer Exploria Stadium Orlando 2015 0
Orlando Magic National Basketball Association Amway Center Orlando 1989 0
Orlando Pride National Women's Soccer League Exploria Stadium Orlando 2016 0
Tampa Bay Buccaneers National Football League Raymond James Stadium Tampa 1976 2 (2002, 2021)
Tampa Bay Lightning National Hockey League Amalie Arena Tampa 1992 2 (2004, 2020)
Tampa Bay Rays Major League Baseball Tropicana Field St. Petersburg 1998 0

NCAA Division I college teams

School Team City Conference
Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats Daytona Beach Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (FCS)
University of Central Florida Knights Orlando American Athletic Conference (FBS)
University of Florida Gators Gainesville Southeastern Conference (FBS)
Florida A&M University Rattlers and Lady Rattlers Tallahassee Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (FCS)
Florida Atlantic University Owls Boca Raton Conference USA (FBS)
Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles Fort Myers Atlantic Sun Conference (non-football)
Florida International University Panthers Miami Conference USA (FBS)
Florida State University Seminoles Tallahassee Atlantic Coast Conference (FBS)
Jacksonville University Dolphins Jacksonville Atlantic Sun Conference (non-football)
University of Miami Hurricanes Coral Gables Atlantic Coast Conference (FBS)
University of North Florida Ospreys and Lady Ospreys Jacksonville Atlantic Sun Conference (non-football)
University of South Florida Bulls Tampa American Athletic Conference (FBS)
Stetson University Hatters DeLand Atlantic Sun Conference (non-football)
Pioneer Football League (FCS)

Sports venues

Stadiums and arenas

Stadium City Capacity Type Tenants Opened
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium[3] Gainesville 88,548 Football Florida Gators 1930
Bobby Bowden Field 
 at Doak Campbell Stadium
Tallahassee 79,560 Football Florida State Seminoles 1950
Camping World Stadium Orlando 65,194 Football Florida Classic, Citrus Bowl, Camping World Bowl 1936
TIAA Bank Field Jacksonville 67,246 Football Jacksonville Jaguars
Florida vs. Georgia Classic
Gator Bowl
Raymond James Stadium Tampa 65,857 Football Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Vipers
South Florida Bulls
Outback Bowl
Hard Rock Stadium Miami Gardens 65,326 Football Miami Dolphins, Miami Hurricanes;
Orange Bowl;
Miami Open (tennis) (from 2019)
Spectrum Stadium Orlando 45,301 Football UCF Knights 2007
Marlins Park[4] Miami 37,000 Baseball Miami Marlins 2012
Tropicana Field[5] St. Petersburg 36,973 Baseball Tampa Bay Rays
Gasparilla Bowl
FAU Stadium Boca Raton 30,000 Football Florida Atlantic Owls, Boca Raton Bowl 2011
Bragg Memorial Stadium Tallahassee 25,500 Football Florida A&M Rattlers 1957
Orlando City Stadium Orlando 25,500 Soccer Orlando City SC, Orlando Pride, Cure Bowl 2017
BB&T Center Sunrise 20,737 Arena Florida Panthers 1998
Amalie Arena Tampa 20,500 Arena Tampa Bay Lightning 1996
Lockhart Stadium Fort Lauderdale 20,450 Soccer Fort Lauderdale Strikers 1959
Riccardo Silva Stadium Miami 20,000 Football FIU Panthers, Miami FC 1995
American Airlines Arena Miami 19,600 Arena Miami Heat 1999
Amway Center Orlando 18,846 Arena Orlando Magic
Orlando Solar Bears
Inter Miami CF Stadium Fort Lauderdale 18,000 Soccer Inter Miami CF
Fort Lauderdale CF
VyStar Veterans 
 Memorial Arena
Jacksonville 14,091 Arena Jacksonville Icemen
Jacksonville Sharks
Donald L. Tucker Center Tallahassee 12,100 Arena Florida State Seminoles 1981
Expo Hall Tampa 11,700 Arena 1976
Silver Spurs Arena Kissimmee 10,500 Arena 2003
Yuengling Center Tampa 10,411 Arena South Florida Bulls 1980
Jostens Center Lake Buena Vista 10,000 Arena 2008
Addition Financial Arena Orlando 9,465 Arena UCF Knights 2007
Ocean Center Daytona Beach 8,362 Arena 1985
Pensacola Bay Center Pensacola 8,300 Arena Pensacola Ice Flyers 1985
RP Funding Center Lakeland 8,178 Arena Lakeland Magic
Lakeland Tarpons
Watsco Center Coral Gables 7,972 Arena Miami Hurricanes 2003
Hertz Arena Estero 7,128 Arena Florida Everblades 1998

Auto racing tracks

See also


  1. ^ Peltier, Michael (November 5, 2011). "Lawmaker's bill would fine teams that black out games". Florida Today. Melbourne, Florida. pp. 4B. Archived from the original on January 17, 2013.
  2. ^ "Jacksonville Jaguars". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved October 27, 2010.
  3. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2010-02-09. Retrieved 2013-05-12.
  4. ^ "Marlins Park News & Info". Miami Marlins. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
  5. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2013-05-12. Retrieved 2013-05-12.

External links

This page was last edited on 10 April 2021, at 09:07
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