Winning seasons still means losses for Tampa Bay businesses

No sports meant a huge loss in revenue for businesses

When Tampa Bay sports teams do well, they're not the only ones who win.

When fans get behind their teams, the economy reaps the benefits, from bars and restaurants to retail stores and hotels.

With the Tampa Bay Lightning playing in a bubble in Canada, no fans for the MLB playoffs, WrestleMania being moved, and the St. Petersburg Grand Prix being postponed -- Bay Area businesses took one financial hit after another in 2020.

When sporting events are in town, area hotels fill up to about 80% capacity, according to Visit Tampa Bay.

But no fans in the stands means no fans at the bars, in the hotels, or on the streets of downtown St. Pete and Tampa.

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"The Columbus series, the Boston series, the New York series, the Dallas series; that meant people coming down to the arena, going to restaurants downtown, fans even possibly coming in from out of town, staying at those hotels; we lost opportunities to market in those markets," said Santiago Corrada, the CEO of Visit Tampa Bay.

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He says the recent Stanley Cup Final could've been a huge economic boost for Tampa -- as the Lightning took it all the way to the end -- winning the Stanley Cup.

Despite the loss of revenue, Corrada says the Lightning's success and the Tampa Bay Rays being in the playoffs are priceless exposure for our region.

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“So every time the name Tampa Bay goes off on television, on the radio, that’s free advertising and it’s hard to put a value on that,” he explained.

Corrada says in previous Super Bowls hosted in Tampa, area hotels have sold out. Businesses are crossing their fingers for that reality again in February, for Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium.

Governor Ron DeSantis said he hopes for a full Super Bowl, including a stadium packed with fans.