Why Sports Fans Love Florida

Published on: Sep 23 2013 by admin

Sports Fans Love Florida for Many Reasons

With balmy weather year round and incredible facilities, it is no wonder that Florida has been dubbed “The Sports Capital of the World.” Due to Florida’s temperate climate and world-renowned entertainment venues, you can easily enjoy any of the top tournaments and best sporting events while visiting some of the most popular tourist attractions in the world.

Major Professional Sports Teams

Since 1888, the state of Florida has been home to Spring Training for the majority of Major League Baseball teams. It would not be until years later, however, that Florida would have a permanent major league professional sports team of its own, and that would be a football – not baseball – team.

In 1966 the Miami Dolphins became part of the American Football League’s organization. Almost fifty years later, the state now has nine major professional sports franchises comprised of two Major League Baseball (MLB) teams, two National Basketball Association (NBA) teams, three National Football League (NFL) teams, and two National Hockey League (NHL) teams.

Florida also has three Arena Football League (AFL) teams, with two of them being the most important AFL teams, making Florida a major market for the increasingly popular sport of indoor football. Florida is also host to these minor league sports: football, basketball, baseball, soccer, ice hockey, and indoor football. Rugby union teams also play in the Sunshine State.

Following are the names of the major professional sports teams that play in Florida, the sports facility where they play, and the league they play in.

  • Miami Marlins – Marlins Park – MLB
  • Tampa Bay Rays – Tropicana Field – MLB
  • Miami Heat – American Airlines Arena – NBA
  • Orlando Magic – Amway Center – NBA
  • Jacksonville Jaguars – Everbank Field – NFL
  • Miami Dolphins – Sun Life Stadium – NFL
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Raymond James Stadium – NFL
  • Florida Panthers – BB&T Center – NHL
  • Tampa Bay Lightning – Tampa Bay Times Forum – NHL
  • Jacksonville Sharks – Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena – AFL
  • Orlando Predators – Amway Center – AFL
  • Tampa Bay Storm – Tampa Bay Times Forum – AFL

MLB Spring Training

During February and March each year, the state of Florida hosts fifteen Major League Baseball teams for Spring Training. A tradition that dates back more than one hundred years, this annual training event attracts over 1.5 million avid baseball fans yearly to watch their favorite teams. More than 1.6 million fans also attend regular games throughout the state annually.

Listed below are all of the teams in Florida’s Grapefruit League, ordered according to the league’s 2013 final standings, greatest won-loss record first.

  • Baltimore Orioles
  • Detroit Tigers
  • Atlanta Braves
  • St. Louis Cardinals
  • Minnesota Twins
  • Boston Red Sox
  • New York Mets
  • Philadelphia Phillies
  • Toronto Blue Jays
  • Houston Astros
  • Tampa Bay Rays
  • Miami Marlins
  • New York Yankees
  • Washington Nationals
  • Pittsburgh Pirates

“Grapefruit League” is the name of an informal pre-season type division of MLB baseball teams that run Spring Training camps in various locations throughout Florida. While somewhat relaxed in organizational structure, the division is managed by the major league teams that take part in Spring Training.

Another Spring Training league located in Arizona is called the Cactus League. At the end of Spring Training, you can watch the Grapefruit and Cactus Divisions in some pre-season play.

Professional baseball teams use the training camps to practice for the regular season. Spring Training not only keeps players in shape, it assists teams with integrating new players or coaches, and allows the team to begin building winning game strategies.

If you are planning a trip to Florida, listed below are the cities where teams train in the state.

  • Atlanta Braves – Walt Disney World
  • Baltimore Orioles – Sarasota
  • Boston Red Sox – Fort Myers
  • Detroit Tigers – Lakeland
  • Florida Marlins – Jupiter
  • Houston Astros – Kissimmee
  • Minnesota Twins – Fort Myers
  • New York Mets – Port St. Lucie
  • New York Yankees – Tampa
  • Philadelphia Phillies – Clearwater
  • Pittsburgh Pirates – Bradenton
  • Saint Louis Cardinals – Jupiter
  • Tampa Bay Rays – Port Charlotte
  • Toronto Blue Jays – Dunedin
  • Washington Nationals – Viera

Other Major Sports

Other popular sports in Florida include auto racing, golf, and tennis. The Sunshine State is home to the Daytona 500 and NASCAR.

The following also claim Florida as their home headquarters:

  • PGA – headquartered in West Palm Beach
  • LPGA – headquartered in Daytona Beach
  • PGA Tour – headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach

As a result of Florida being a sports-friendly state, sports is a $36 billion industry in Florida, providing some 434,000 jobs to Floridians.

Individual Sports – Golf

Florida is where sports enthusiasts come to play individual sports plus watch their favorite professional major league team. For instance, at last count Florida had more than 1,250 golf courses with more than 55 million rounds of golf played annually.

It is not surprising that Florida has more golf courses than in any other state. What’s more, there are at least a hundred major hotels and resorts serving these courses. With most of the courses being maintained to championship standards many of Florida’s courses are ranked as some of the best in the world.

Each resort offers a unique opportunity to stay and play golf all year round. These golf resorts are actually like self-contained miniature worlds focused on providing a total family experience as well as providing an exceptional golf outing. Top Florida golf courses cater to golfers of every skill level and every budget. Nowhere in the world will you find more world-class courses than in Florida.

Individual Sports – Fishing and Boating

Fishing and boating are two of Florida’s most popular water sports because they can be enjoyed all year long with little exception. Additionally, the following natural features of Florida make the state a top destination for water sports enjoyed by boaters and fishermen alike.

  • 8,426 miles of shoreline
  • 1,711 miles of rivers, streams, and waterways
  • 7,800+ natural lakes
  • 7,700 lakes greater than 10 acres

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