sports

BILL BORTZFIELD / WJCT NEWS

Jacksonville’s first Triple-A baseball season since 1968 starts Tuesday, April 6.

Spring Training in 2021 was already going to be different from previous years, but Major League Baseball's recently released revision to the schedule and the differing COVID-19 fan policies for each team has made it more complicated than originally thought.

Games will begin Feb. 28 under the revised Grapefruit League schedule. They will be segmented geographically into three groups, to mitigate travel and possible COVID-19 exposure.

Lynne Sladky / Associated Press

Tickets to The Players Championship are now on sale. The Players returns to TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach the week of March 9-14, with a reduced fan footprint to ensure the safety of all attendees.

Vincent Jackson, Former Bucs Wide Receiver, Dead At 38

Feb 16, 2021

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson.

Jackson, 38, was found dead in a hotel room at the Homewood Suites in Brandon around 11:30 a.m. Monday by a housekeeper.

There were no apparent signs of trauma, and the Medical Examiner's Office will determine the cause of death.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the city of Tampa will hold a boat parade Wednesday to celebrate the team's Super Bowl LV win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

The city formally announced the event Tuesday night, saying the boats will set sail on the Hillsborough River, starting near Armature Works at 1 p.m. and ending at Port Tampa Bay.

Icemen Owners Plan To Buy, Renovate Jacksonville Ice & Sportsplex

Feb 9, 2021
Jacksonville Ice & Sportsplex / Via Jacksonville Daily Record

Jacksonville Icemen parent company SZH Hockey LLC plans to buy and renovate the Jacksonville Ice & Sportsplex for $18 million, team President Bob Ohrablo said Feb. 8.

Tampa Reflects On A Pandemic Super Bowl

Feb 9, 2021

The top officials who planned Tampa's Super Bowl in one of the worst years imaginable reflected on their effort the day after the big game. They said the preparation for the game went as well as could be expected.

Rob Higgins is head of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission. He said the region had a chance to showcase what it can do in the middle of a pandemic, and it will get a chance to shine again.

"There's going to be other cities that have bigger stadiums and bigger hotels and bigger regions," Higgins said. "I'm biased, but none of them have a bigger heart."

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, huge crowds of Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans took to the streets Sunday night to celebrate their team's 31-9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.

Distancing and mask rules were largely ignored as celebrations took place along 7th Avenue in Ybor City, in Tampa's SoHo neighborhood and the Channel District, and outside Raymond James Stadium.

Videos on social media showed fans stopping traffic by gathering in intersections, as well as climbing on trees, construction scaffolds, and a HART bus.

(Courtesy: NFL)

(On Todd Bowles and his defense)

“Yeah, I can’t give him enough credit. You know, I think he got a little tired of hearing about how unstoppable they were. I thought he came up with a fantastic plan just to keep them in front of us and tackle real well. Patrick wasn’t going to beat us running, we’d let him run all day. Just keep chasing him around and see if we can make some plays.”

(On his future with the Buccaneers)

Donna Deegan (right) is pictured in this pre-pandemic file photo with First Coast Connect host Melissa Ross
HEATHER SCHATZ / WJCT NEWS

The DONNA marathon run for breast cancer is right around the corner, and will be virtual, due to the pandemic.

At the NFL Super Bowl Experience in Tampa’s Curtis Hixon Park, fans were dancing, shopping for game day gear, and attempting to kick field goals against a virtual backdrop — things typical of the event.

But missing on this Wednesday evening were the cheers and the camaraderie of strangers high-fiving each other over shared excitement.

Instead of encouraging fans to "make some noise," the MC on stage shouted reminders to wear masks at all times.

This year's Super Bowl is a home game for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, some fans are looking for socially distant ways to watch the big game.

The demand for yacht and boat rentals is surging.

If you have ever strolled around Harbour Island in downtown Tampa, you’ve probably walked past the Vanguard. The gleaming 60-foot yacht id docked right in front of Jackson’s Bistro.

“Our job has really just been to keep the boat in immaculate condition.” said Dustin Swope.

NFL Warns About Fake Super Bowl Tickets, Merchandise

Feb 4, 2021

With Super Bowl LV just around the corner, National Football League officials and Tampa law enforcement are working to get out in front of fraudulent tickets and merchandise sold by con artists.

“Every year, we see fans who arrive at the stadium on game day, only to be turned away at the gates because their tickets are not valid,” said Michael Buchwald, senior counsel for the NFL.

“Be wary of tickets that are advertised at a price below market value, or that appear too good to be true,” he added.

The Super Bowl traditionally has been known to attract human traffickers, so as Tampa gears up for the big game on Sunday, local and state officials are taking steps to crack down on sexual exploitation.

Law enforcement agencies in Tampa and across the state are working with community organizations and Hillsborough County officials to help people recognize signs of human trafficking and how to report it.

As excitement builds for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ upcoming appearance in Super Bowl LV in their home stadium, sales of team merchandise continue to skyrocket.

It’s actually a continuation of activity that started with a pair of major deals in 2020.

Mark Brunell
Jacksonville Jaguars file photo provided to WJCT News

Former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell, who quarterbacked the team in four playoff appearances, is returning to the NFL.

Press release from Florida State:

Florida State’s 2021 schedule was officially announced Thursday. It includes seven home games and five road games, including the annual rivalry matchup with Florida.

“We are excited about the 2021 football season, and the announcement of the upcoming schedule sets a lot of wheels in motion,” Florida State Director of Athletics David Coburn said. “I know our coaches and players are glad to know what the season will look like, not to mention our Seminole Boosters and fans who can begin making their plans.”

PGA Tour

The PGA TOUR’s brand new “Global Home” in Ponte Vedra Beach is just about ready to open its doors.

As Georgia and the nation mourn the death of baseball legend Hank Aaron, presidents, community leaders, and those benefiting from his philanthropy honored his memory at a funeral service Wednesday at Friendship Baptist Church in downtown Atlanta.

Dr. Richard W. Wills Sr., the pastor of Friendship Baptist, said Aaron's absence was immediately felt.

"In the passion of Harry Louis Aaron, something vast and noble has passed from among us," he said. "It’s as if a mighty oak has fallen, leaving a gaping hole on the horizon where its gallant place once stood."

Fans attending outdoor Super Bowl activities in Tampa will be required to wear face masks.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor signed an executive order Wednesday that extends an existing mandate to include outdoor events and gatherings at "entertainment districts" including Ybor City.

A Late Show with Steven Colbert / Via Twitter

The suggestion by state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis that the summer Olympics be moved from Tokyo to Florida is providing fodder for ‘Late Show’ host Stephen Colbert.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said Tuesday the city is moving forward with plans to remake the Tropicana Field site without the Tampa Bay Rays.

The baseball team has played at the Trop since its first season in 1998. The Rays’ lease on Tropicana Field, which sits on city-owned land, expires in 2027.

A scene from THE PLAYERS Championship on March 13, 2020, shortly after it was canceled last year due to COVID-19.
LYNNE SLADKY / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Spectators will return to THE PLAYERS Championship at Sawgrass this year.

Hiro Komae / Associated Press

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis has sent a letter to the International Olympic Committee, encouraging the body to consider relocating the 2021 Olympics from Japan to Florida.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers started off quickly, then held off the persistent Green Bay Packers in the second half Sunday night to become the first team in NFL history to earn a Super Bowl berth in their home stadium.

Quarterback Tom Brady was brought in this season to fulfill a promise to win a championship, but he and the Bucs had to weather three interceptions on consecutive drives between the third and fourth quarters to stop the top-seeded Packers 31-26 to earn a spot in Super Bowl LV.

Associated Press

Hank Aaron, who shattered Babe Ruth's home run record in 1974, has died. "Hammerin' Hank" was 86.

Associated Press

The Jacksonville Jaguars have a new general manager. 

Urban Meyer Agrees To Deal To Become Jaguars Next Head Coach

Jan 15, 2021
Bob Mack / The Florida Times-Union File Photo

The Jaguars reached an agreement Thursday to hire Urban Meyer as their next head coach, replacing Doug Marrone, the franchise announced.  

Doug Marrone is pictured on the sidelines during his final game as Jaguars head coach on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.
Zach Bolinger / Associated Press

Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone has been let go after Sunday’s 28-14 season finale loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

121 Financial Ballpark, the home of the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.
BILL BORTZFIELD / WJCT NEWS

Jumbo Shrimp owner and CEO Ken Babby is bullish on Jacksonville’s future.

Pages