Ask Gary: Has the NBA considered Tampa Bay?

by Gary Shelton on November 7, 2015 · 2 comments

in Baseball, Florida, Florida State University, general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Rays

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(Each week, the readers take over and play Ask Gary. They send in a question, or a couple, and we all talk about the world of sports.  Think of it as a radio show where you don't have to be on hold. Join us and ask a question, make a comment or be funny. Send the questions to

During your decades of covering sports in the Tampa Bay, has there been a time that the area came close to landing an NBA franchise?  When Orlando was awarded a franchise, did that kill Tampa’s chances of landing a franchise for the foreseeable future, or are there still groups working behind the scenes trying to make it happen?  I would love to see the NBA in Tampa, and would buy season tickets.

Scott McPherson

Except for a few fans wishing that Tampa had a team, there hasn't been serious talk about it for a long time. There was some discussion before the Orlando Magic was formed in 1989 that a franchise might fit better here, but that was before baseball and hockey. There was a time around the 2001 season when the Magic was having trouble getting an arena, but nothing came of it.

I'm not sure Tampa can support the three pro franchises it has, let alone a fourth. I just don't know that there is that much money here, let alone that many sponsors.

As for the Magic, they would probably have something to say about a franchise so

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Scott McPherson November 8, 2015 at 7:20 am

I am surprised that the interest in the NBA is that low in the area, and I wonder how much of that is from there being no franchise here in the first place. An NBA arena typically seats 18,000 to 20,000, roughly the same as an NHL arena. Assuming an NBA team came to Amalie Arena, I believe it would sell out nearly every game. I know there is a lot more to success than that (merchandise, tv ratings, etc.) but I think interest would grow a great deal. On the subject of the Magic, it would be nice if they would play some home games in Tampa at Amalie Arena. By doing so, I think they could increase their fan base. Thank you for the interesting response to my question.


Gary Shelton November 8, 2015 at 11:54 am

I’ve always been surprised, too, because it’s a great game. Amazing athletes. But you know, I thought baseball would draw better than it has. I think it’s a good idea for the Magic to play a handful of games here. I know when the Rays played games in Orlando, the attendance was terrible. The Bucs say that during their good year, they got a good following from Orlando.


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