Damn … what a difference 24 hours makes! In one day the world has literally stopped. The Corona Virus has hit the USA and the entire world and it has affected everybody … BUT … I think the Tampa Bay area got hit harder than anywhere else in the country. I’m not talking about the number of infected people, I’m talking economics.
Think about this … the NBA suspended their season, MLS did the same as did NASCAR. These stoppages hurt all fans nationally (as well as participants) but really didn’t affect the immediate Tampa Bay area.
Now let’s look at the other sporting events that did seriously hurt our economy … MLB is huge in Tampa Bay with the Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees all holding Spring Training games in our area. Plus we have the Tampa Bay Rays as our home team and the regular season will be altered… The Tampa Bay Lightning call Tampa Bay home and that means we lost home games and hundreds of people who work at Amalie Arena lost income … The NCAA canceling the “March Madness” basketball tournament was a crushing blow to our local economy as Amalie Arena was set to host Round 1 & 2 games … The XFL discontinued their inaugural season and that means no more Tampa Bay Viper football games at Raymond James Stadium … The Firestone St. Pete Grand Prix was supposed to happen this weekend on the streets of St. Petersburg but that was also canceled … March 19-21 was the one week of the year our area got to show off our beautiful golf courses to the world but the PGA stopped all tournaments and the Valspar Championship will not be played this year at Innisbrook.
Those along with … MacDill Air Force Base postponed their AirFest Show plus concerts by Kenny Chesney, Cher, Martin Lawrence, Howie Mandel, America, Yes, Art Garfunkel (and other events held at Ruth Eckerd Hall, The Bilheimer Theatre, The Straz Center and The Mahaffey Theater) were all stopped. All of these events (plus many, many other local shows, concerts, events and parties) have been put on hold or permanently discontinued for this year.
Of all the weeks for this to happen …Tampa Bay had the world’s largest college basketball tournament, a PGA golf stop, the opening season race for Indy Cars, professional football games and Spring Training baseball games all canceled. These events will not be rescheduled here in our area this year and we are just plain out of luck.
I know this article concentrated on sporting events and there are hundreds of other events in the area that have been canceled but I wanted to make the point that Tampa Bay was hit hard by this damn virus and I hope the two week period people are talking about is long enough to stop the spread and maybe we can get back to semi-normal conditions! I have one bit of advice … try not to be around sick people, don’t touch your face and wash your hands as many times as possible!