It is good news that Covid-19 is starting to get under control. I know that it is still there but there is a smaller chance of getting it. For example, PGA Tour golfer Jon Rahm tested positive after he finished his third round. He had to withdraw from the Memorial golf tournament. Rahm led that golf tournament after three rounds. The effect has been different in some sports. I am happy to see that both the Tampa Bay Rowdies and USF Bulls have returned to full capacity. The Rowdies just announced it last night. They play at Al Lang Stadium that at one time used to be the spring training home of the St. Louis Cardinals. The stadium holds 6,300 and when it’s full, the fans are rowdy and love their Rowdies. The Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Lightning have also increased capacity for their games but are not full yet.
The Tampa Bay Rowdies are off to one of the best starts in franchise history. They have played seven matches and have a record of 6-0-1. They were one of the best teams in the Eastern Division of the USL. They were penciled in for the championship game. Their opponent was the Phoenix Rising but the game was canceled because of Covid-19. As the Rowdies season opened, the stadium opened to just a limited capacity. It now allows all the fans to watch their team. If the Rowdies continue, they might be champs of the whole USL.
The USF Bulls are only three months away from opening their football season. They will open against in-state rival, the Florida Gators. The best part is that Raymond James Stadium will be at 100% capacity. I attended the first home game last year for the Bulls and they had no fans in attendance. That was an eerie experience as they had to pump in crowd noise whenever the Bulls had a good play or scored a touchdown. I know when they open on September 11th for a noon kickoff, there will be more fans wearing blue and orange than green and gold. I cannot wait to see the stadium full once again.
For the Tampa Bay Lightning and Rays, they are close to having a full audience at Amalie Arena and Tropicana Field. The Rays were in the World Series last year but lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games. The Lightning won the Stanley Cup in the Canadian bubble last year and this year they find themselves close to winning another cup. Tropicana Field, where the Rays played, opened to more fans recently. Hopefully, the fans will start showing up to support their Rays. The Lightning will have more fans at home to watch them start their semifinal series tomorrow against the New York Islanders. The same Islanders they beat last year in the Eastern Conference Finals to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.
In the end, I am happy to see these four venues getting closer or already at full capacity. We thought that it would be years after Covid-19 hit the US in 2020. Society is close throughout the US to getting back to what life was before 2020. I am hoping to attend a Tampa Bay Rowdies game now they are allowing more people to come to their games. Hopefully, I will be a press member and seeing a packed house at Raymond James Stadium with USF Bulls football. I went to a Tampa Bay Lightning game this year and normally it is hard to find an empty seat, so it was weird seeing many open ones. I am also looking to attend a Tampa Bay Rays game this year as well. We are no longer under the mercy of Covid-19.