Tampa skyline. Photo: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay area is having a heck of a sports year.

Yes, but: Its hometown teams have played in empty stadiums, or faraway bubbles, so it hasn't gotten to enjoy the excitement — or reap the economic rewards — that such success typically brings.

  • The Rays have a 2-0 lead in the ALCS after Monday's 4-2 win over the Astros in a game that would have normally been played at a packed Tropicana Field (St. Petersburg) but instead was played at an empty Petco Park (San Diego).
  • The Lightning won their second Stanley Cup, but did so in a fanless bubble, far from Amalie Arena (at least they got a boat parade).
  • The Buccaneers landed Tom Brady this offseason, but fans weren't permitted to attend games until last week — and even then, it was just 6,000.

And let's not forget: The pandemic also wiped out major sporting events slated to take place in the Tampa Bay area this year.

  • March Madness (would have hosted games)
  • WrestleMania (moved to Orlando)
  • The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (postponed IndyCar race)
  • The Valspar Championship (canceled PGA Tour event)
  • About a third of MLB's spring training (hosts Yankees, Phillies and Blue Jays)

By the numbers: Add it all up and the Tampa Bay area is facing a loss of roughly $400 million in sports-related economic impact this year, per multiple estimates.

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