Tampa Bay area took $400 million economic hit due to no sports, reports says

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The idea of a ‘home team’ has been put aside in 2020.

Both the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Tampa Bay Rays have played away during the coronavirus crisis.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have allowed just a few thousand fans inside Raymond James Stadium for games.

All that, coupled with the loss of huge sporting events like WrestleMania, The Valspar Championship and March Madness, has left the economy reeling.

An estimate by Axios says the Tampa Bay area is facing a $400 million loss in economic impact.

“There’s no doubt the last 6 to 7 months, there’s been a dramatic impact on our hospitality and tourism industry. Look at a few of the major events we lost,” Rob Higgins, executive director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, told 8 On Your Side.

Higgins said the area lost more than 60,000 hotel visitor room nights due to cancellations.

But he hopes Tampa shines in the months and years to come.

“I can tell you the mission really has never changed for us and that has been to maximize the opportunity that comes along with hosting a Super Bowl,” he said.

Super Bowl LV is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 7, at Raymond James Stadium, and Higgins said the event will go off without a hitch.

He also said Tampa will host the NCAA Men’s Frozen Four in 2023, plus the Women’s Final Four and Women’s Volleyball Championship around that time.

Still, some residents say they are skeptical to attend an event.

“The events, the sporting events, I wish I could say it’s going to improve in the near future, but the way things are going now, I don’t see it’s going to improve in the near future, but I hope that it does,” Said Bettye Samuel, who lives in Tampa.

Sports leaders hope things bounce back as well, knowing success in sports means a win for everyone.

“We’re really excited about the future. We’re really excited that sports be a big part of the recovery here and we look forward working with Team Tampa Bay to help our hometown shine yet again,” Higgins said.

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