The Economic Impact of Sports Tourism on the Tampa Bay Area

By  //  January 30, 2023

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Wondering how Tampa tourism has impacted the economy? Read on to find out.

The Sunny City of Tampa

Along Florida’s gulf coast is the famous sunny city of Tampa. It is known as a major business center, a cultural hub full of museums, animal-viewing areas, and amusement parks.

However, Tampa also gains vast popularity from its sports base. Tampa is home to the American football team Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the ice hockey team Tampa Bay Lightning, amongst many other teams. The economic impact of sports tourism in Tampa is significant.

Because of the city’s winning NFL teams and high-ranking players in every sport, Tampa’s economy is improved by sports tourism. Tampa also hosted the Super Bowl twice, which brought them even more economic success. Tourism doesn’t only benefit the revenue for sports shops and ticket sellers but also the local shops, hotels, and transport economy.

How Sports Tourism Has Helped

One of the most significant economic sectors in the world is tourism. Tourism enables people to enjoy the many cultural and natural resources of the world while having positive effects on our society. Sport is one of the biggest global social phenomena, and paired with tourism, the fastest-growing economic sector worldwide, it makes a great combination. Traveling to other locations to participate, witness, support, and compete in sports, whether for work or recreation, is fun and popular.

Major sporting events like the Super Bowl are always a winner for tourism destinations. In fact, a study found that ¼ of all tourism in the world is related to sports. Sports tourism is a big part of the tourism industry and has a heavy impact on the city in which it is based. In the case of Tampa, the simple return of one player, Tom Brady, to the Buccaneers had an incredible effect on the city’s economy.

Tom Brady’s surprise announcement represents another year’s worth of economic tailwinds in the area. As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers team grasps its position at the heart of the NFL, the city of Tampa will increasingly benefit in many economical ways, from increased merchandise sales, ticket distribution, and more, which will all contribute to tourism profits. Additionally, the return of such a worldwide acclaimed American football player didn’t cost anything to the city, but they will reap its rewards. Assistant professor with the department of sport management at the University of Florida, Christopher McLeod, even stated, “The great thing about Tom Brady coming back is I don’t see any way that the public’s spending money on that. So, his decision provides some benefits that nobody’s paying for.”


According to assistant professor McLeod, studies on the financial effects of a single athlete on a team or local economy have until now been mainly focused on NBA stars. Brady is one of the only NFL players and sportsmen who can “boost ticket sales above and beyond the contribution to wins; therefore, they have exceptional value.”

This is proven by the city’s financial records in 2022, where the total tourist development tax receipts reached over 53 million dollars, representing a 59% increase from the previous year, showing the importance of sports tourism for Tampa’s economy.

Additionally, home games for the Buccaneers result in notable increases in hotel bookings, with a 13% increase during weekend games and Monday and Thursday games. 

Tampa sports tourism also contributed to the nearly 900 million dollars in hotel revenue reached in the 2022 fiscal year. With growing ticket demand, the prices for a single seat have nearly tripled, with former Tampa Bay Buccaneers home games tickets selling for approximately 113 dollars to 308 dollars in 2022.

This number is only expected to rise with time. The NFL is not only a merchandise bonanza for the city but also represents country-wide viewership, sales, and interest in all the city’s sectors. Sports goods companies such as Nike are also heavily contributing to the local economy. Their sales skyrocketed in the past year with up-to-date player-specific endorsements and merchandise.

Overall, the city of Tampa is optimizing its marketing strategy to make the most out of the sports tourism resulting from these nationally-recognized teams, whether in the NFL, ice hockey, baseball, basketball, or many other sports.