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Sports Events In Tampa Bay: Major Highlights

Tampa Bay Sporting Events
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The Tampa Bay area encompasses the metropolitan areas of Tampa, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg. While the major draws are home teams like the Tampa Bay Rays, the Bucs, and the Lighting, there is so much more to the bay area’s sports scene than just professional sports. There are plenty of sports events in Tampa Bay that hobbyists and casual fans can join. 

Whether you want to spectate or participate, there’s something for every kind of sports fan. From bodybuilding to cheerleading, and fishing to baseball, Tampa has it all. Keep reading for a guide to the biggest sporting events in Tampa Bay.

January

Clearwater Marathon And Running Festival 

With a 50k, marathon, half-marathon, and 5k, the Clearwater Running Festival caters to runners of all abilities. The course takes runners through some of the most scenic places in America as Clearwater has been consistently named one of the best beach towns in the nation.

February

Tampa Showdown Cheerleading Competition

Cheer groups from all over the country come together to compete in the Tampa Showdown. It’s a major stepping stone on the way to bigger competitions like the Spirit Championship, one of the highest honors in cheer. 

Gasparilla Softball Classic

The Gasparilla Softball Classic is an annual LGBTQ softball festival held over President’s Day weekend in February. While it’s a legitimate league with 80 teams and three divisions, you don’t need to be a professional or expert softball player to participate. The Gasparilla Softball Classic is a fun tournament that is more about community than it is about who wins. 

Suncoast Sports Festival

Watch athletes compete in less traditional sports like parkour, gymnastics, and taekwondo. The Suncoast Sports Festival in February also features more than just sports showcases. Check out the vendor market for sports-related goods. 

The Waterman Fly Fishing Festival

Anglers compete to see who can nab the biggest redfish in this two-day catch-and-release fly fishing competition. Prove your catch with a photo and a quick weigh-in before you release the fish back into the water. 

The proceeds of the Waterman Fly Fishing Festival go directly to Tampa Bay Waterkeeper, an organization dedicated to keeping waterways clean and pollution-free.

Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series

Sailors from all over the world flock to St. Petersburg for the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta series. This race can have up to 2000 participants out on the water, all competing for the chance to participate in the season championship in the British Virgin Islands. 

March

Spring Training

Tampa and Clearwater are major venues for the Grapefruit League a.k.a. Major League Baseball Spring Training. In the springtime, baseball teams from up north fly south to take advantage of the warmer temperatures. The greater Tampa Bay area is one of the major destinations for spring training. 

At Spring Training, witness matchups you wouldn’t normally see in the regular season as well as watch big stars play in smaller venues.

Valspar Championship

Originally the Tampa Bay Classic, the Valspar Championship is a stop on the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA) Tour. Golfers playon the Copperhead Course northwest of Tampa. This tournament has raised millions of dollars for charity and is a major draw. Golfers from all over the world, from England to Korea, come to play in the Valspar Championship.

April

Corporate Sports Fest 

While most of these festivals and tournaments require some training or experience in the sport to join, this one has no prerequisites. In fact, “the more the merrier is the motto” of the Corporate Sports Fest!

Looking for a team-building idea for your company? Gather your co-workers and compete against teams from other companies in this multi-day sports festival that celebrates company pride and team spirit.

Tampa International Dragon Boat Festival

The Tampa International Dragon Boat Festival is one of the biggest dragon boat festivals in the Southeast. Come out to the water and enjoy watching rowers compete on the 450m course at the Rocky Point Lagoon.

July

WWE Raw

WWE Raw is professional wrestling’s longest-running show. Watch feats of athleticism as the wrestlers leap around the ring, show off their best moves, and conquer their opponents. 

While there are rivalries and storylines, you don’t have to be a Raw fan to get into the show. The performers do a great job of entertaining and shocking you either way.

Love Mckinley Golf Tournament

The Love Mckinley Golf Tournament is an annual fundraising event for Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. Since its inception, this tournament has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars toward care for children’s cancer and even bought the hospital a Vecta sensory machine. 

The typical lineup is a silent auction on the Friday before the tournament, followed by the main event on Saturday morning at the Bardmoor Golf Course. 

August

Tampa Bay Strength And Fitness Expo

If you are interested in weightlifting, powerlifting, or CrossFit, then this is the event for you! Immerse yourself in the culture of getting fit at this expo, where you can learn about new techniques, check out the latest exercise equipment, and even buy supplements. Everyone is welcome – men, women, and even children can join in and compete. 

The centerpiece of the Tampa Bay Strength and Fitness Expo is the Tampa Bay Games, a coed CrossFit competition that features both amateurs and invited elite athletes. Watch them compete to see who will reign supreme!

The International Bodybuilding And Fitness Yamamoto Cup Tampa Qualifier

Have you been trying to bulk up? Are you interested in the perfect male physique? If you are, you may want to check out this three-day bodybuilding competition. A qualifier for the national championships, the International Bodybuilding and Fitness Yamamoto Cup Tampa Qualifier draws in athletes from all over Florida.

October

Port Tampa Bay Slam

The Port Tampa Bay Slam is a one-day catch-and-release competition held in October. Aside from a team prize for the longest combined catch, there are individual prizes for five different species of fish: snook, redfish, mangrove snapper, jack, and sea trout.

This tournament benefits the Tampa Bay Maritime Scholarship Foundation Inc. and the seafarer’s center. 

November

American Field Hockey: National Hockey Festival

Held at the Tournament Sportsplex in Hillsborough, the National Hockey Festival is a giant field hockey tournament featuring teams from all over the US. 

You can do more than just watch games – shop at the vendor village between tournaments or explore the area around Sportsplex which is full of restaurants and local businesses. 

December

The Gasparilla Bowl

The Gasparilla Bowl is an NCAA-sanctioned bowl game played in late December. This game is big enough to be broadcast on ESPN, featuring teams from both the Southeastern Conference and the American Athletic Conference.

The experience is so much more than just football, too – there’s a whole festival around the Gasparilla Bowl. Enjoy marching bands and cheerleaders, concert stages, and food vendors.

Conclusion

The Tampa area is a great place to be if you love sports. Not only can you root for your favorite sports teams, but you can also attend different festivals and tournaments. No matter what sport you follow, from baseball to weightlifting, there is bound to be something for you in Tampa, Clearwater, or St. Petersburg!


**Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).

Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.

Events and schedules are subject to change.

Written by Rachel Covello

Rachel Covello is an award-winning speaker, writer, diversity consultant, and LGBT advocate. She is the Founder of LGBT Equality Alliance, a Chester County, PA nonprofit organization, and CEO of OUTCOAST, an online marketing and concierge platform marketing the Gulf Coast as an LGBTQ-inclusive place to VISIT, CELEBRATE, and LIVE.

Rachel is also an avid event photographer and has captured photos for LGBT organizations around the world, including the IGLTA, NGLCC, NLGJA, and Out & Equal.


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