Biggest sports night ever in Tampa Bay

TAMPA, Fla. -- We’ve already talked about how the relatively unknown Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be showcased on the Monday night stage.

But Monday is about more than football in Tampa Bay. It is simply the biggest day in the history of Tampa Bay sports. For those unfamiliar with the geography and terms, Tampa is the city where the Bucs play. Tampa Bay is the body of water between Tampa and St. Petersburg. Tampa Bay also is the term used to describe the region that includes Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater and sometimes Sarasota and Bradenton.

The sporting eyes of a nation will be on Tampa Bay tonight. The Buccaneers host the Indianapolis Colts at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa at 8:30 p.m. At 5:07 p.m., baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays host the Texas Rangers in a playoff game at St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Field.

As Gary Shelton points out, there will be roughly 15 million people watching the two games on television. There also will be sellouts at both stadiums and that’s an accomplishment in itself. About 100,000 tickets have been sold for the two games, and the Bucs didn’t even draw that many for their first two home games combined. The Rays rarely have sellouts.

Yeah, you could argue that the night the Bucs won the Super Bowl or the day the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup were more significant.

But there’s never been a sports day quite like this in Tampa Bay. In an economically challenged area, where stadiums rarely have sold out in recent years, both stadiums will be packed and national (and international) audiences will be tuned in. For a change, the eyes of the sports world will be on Tampa Bay.