Major-league baseball fans were thrilled when the Tampa Bay Rays made it to the World Series against Philly in 2008. Although they lost, the games remain a hugely popular draw for sports fans flocking to Tropicana Field, 1 Tropicana Dr., St. Petersburg (tel. 727/825- 3250). Tickets range from as low as $10 to as high as in the hundreds, depending on how good their season is. In 2009, the Rays moved to a new spring- training facility in Port Charlotte.
New York Yankees fans can watch the Bronx Bombers during baseball's spring training, from mid-February to the end of March, at George Steinbrenner Field (tel. 813/879-2244 or 813/875-7753; www.steinbrennerfield.com), opposite Raymond James Stadium. This scaled-down replica of Yankee Stadium is the largest spring-training facility in Florida, with a 10,000-seat capacity. Tickets are $10 to $20. Season tickets range from $240 to $460. The club's minor-league team, the Tampa Yankees (same contact info), plays at Legends Field April through August.
National Football League fans can catch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the modern, 66,000-seat Raymond James Stadium, 4201 N. Dale Mabry Hwy., at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard (tel. 813/879-2827; www.buccaneers.com), August through December. Single-game tickets are very hard to come by, as they are usually sold out to the plethora of season-ticket holders. This is a huge football city!
The National Hockey League's Tampa Bay Lightning, winners of the 2004 Stanley Cup, play in the St. Pete Times Forum starting in October (tel. 813/301-6500; www.tampabaylightning.com). You can usually get single-game tickets ($30-$349) on game day.
The only thoroughbred racetrack on Florida's west coast is Tampa Bay Downs, 11225 Racetrack Rd., Oldsmar (tel. 800/200-4434 in Florida, or 813/855-4401; www.tampadowns.com), home of the Tampa Bay Derby. Races are held from December to May ($2 general admission, $3 clubhouse), and the track presents simulcasts year-round. Call for post times.