Professional soccer officially returned to Tampa Bay on May 8, when a crowd of more than 8,000 fans watched the Rowdies play their debut home game at Steinbrenner Field. Currently headed up by Scottish coach and retired professional footballer Paul Dalglish, the Rowdies are chest-trapping, banana-kicking, and head-butting their way back into the world of black-and-white-spotted balls. Watch them take on the Minnesota Stars, who are ably coached by Manny Logas and hungry to work their way up the 2010 standings. Sideline seats get frenetic fans close enough to observe the fantastic flairs of Division II soccer savants as they attempt to sneak the European pigskin between an opponent’s legs and through the goal zone. Since it's a Thursday game, fans can also take advantage of Thirsty Thursdays, featuring $1 beers from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The Florida Collegiate Summer League assembles 160 top college athletes each summer to play wooden-bat baseball in a competitive atmosphere intended to prepare them for careers in professional baseball. Four general-admission tickets unlock a plethora of best-available seating options at one of five home fields for your quad-pod pack of family members. Alternate nourishing bites from four hot dogs and bags of chips with hydrating drags from four icy soft drinks while viewing inspiring feats of athleticism such as grand slams, base burglary, and home-stretch backflips.
The USF Bulls play their home games in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' sleek Raymond James Stadium, home of the famous pirate ship harbored in Buccaneer Cove. Single-game tickets against Western Kentucky and Florida Atlantic provide a taste of the festive atmosphere present in collegiate ball. The season pass, which is good for all seven regular home games against teams such as Connecticut, Syracuse, and the Tuscaloosa Technical Institute of Poetry, lets fans fill the football-shaped void in their hearts over the course of the season.
XFC is a prominent mixed-martial-arts organization dedicated to finding the next generation of MMA superheroes through open tryouts so that these undiscovered fighters may one day climb into the bloodied center of a professional cage match. XFC XI: The Next Generation features four XFC Open Fighter Tryout winners as well as Micah Miller, Kim Couture, and many more. Watch as these skilled fighters vie for domination using techniques drawn from Brazilian jiujitsu, Muay Thai, boxing, wrestling, kickboxing, tae kwon do, and more.
If there’s one team to emulate in professional sports, it’s the New York Yankees and their 27 championships. Since becoming the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the big league Yankees in 1994, the Tampa Yankees have grown into a minor league clone of their MLB brethren—they’ve won five Florida State League titles, including back-to-back years in 2009-10.
Further strengthening the Yankee bond, the T-Yanks play all their home games at George M. Steinbrenner Field, the Spring Training facility of the Bronx Bombers. A scaled-down replica of Yankee Stadium, Steinbrenner Field is an 11,000-seat facility brimming with Yankee lore. The 31-acre complex even has a Monument Park, which honors the organization’s greatest players and beer vendors.
Like the Fort Myers Palms and the Miami Hustlers, Marlins, and Orioles before them, the Fort Myers Miracle continue a tradition of minor league baseball in South Florida that dates back to 1926. Under the stewardship of partial owners Jimmy Buffet and Bill Murray, the Miracle is now a Class A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins that faces off against rival Florida State League teams in front of crowds of up to 8,500 in Hammond Stadium. Though still pursuing their first FSL championship, the franchise has won six total first and second half division titles and produced a number of players who have gone on to play in the FSL all-star game, the major leagues, and community theater productions of The Sandlot.