Like most cities in Florida, the sports fans in Tampa aren’t exactly known for their outpouring of support on game days. In fact, poor fan attendance has prompted several professional athletes to call-out Tampa Bay fans and residents for not providing a real “home field advantage.” Yes, it’s true – you won’t find many locals rushing out to fill stadium seats for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Rays, University of South Florida Bulls, or New York Yankees spring training, but you’d be hard-pressed to encounter a sports enthusiast who hasn’t been a frequent visitor to at least one of the top ten area sports bars listed below.
Known for: Prime location in the heart of Downtown Tampa, a staple known by all locals
For local Tampa residents, Hattrick’s in Downtown Tampa is one of the most well-known destinations to catch a game, and it has even been named by ESPN as one of the top ten sports bars in the nation. Hattrick’s has plenty of big-screen HD-TV’s and gets all the major sports packages, including NFL Sunday Ticket, NHL Center Ice, MLB Extra Innings and NCAA Mega March Madness, so even if your team isn’t local, you’ll be able to watch the game.
Known for: An electric atmosphere during baseball and football seasons
No list of Tampa Bay sports bars could be complete without Ferg’s Sports Bar and Grill in St. Petersburg. Ferg’s, located across from Tropicana Field (‘The Trop’) and complete with its own walk-way tunnel, is an institution with baseball fans. This bar is THE place to be both before and after all Rays games. It’s a family place as well as a party place with wall to wall TV’s boasting non-stop sports action. The menu consists of typical sports bar food with everything from classic nachos to a Philly steak sandwich that has even received rave reviews from Philly natives.
Known for: Good food and good drink specials
Lee Roy Selmon, the city’s first NFL Pro-Bowler and legendary tackle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, opened a major restaurant in Tampa several years ago that has easily become one of the most well-known area restaurants. Lee Roy Selmon’s serves a variety of high-quality comfort food while providing a friendly and fun atmosphere. These restaurants are nothing like the typical “brew and buffalo wings joint,” and the prices are surprisingly affordable with plenty of drink specials on big game days. The Lee Roy Selmon’s located across from the International Plaza is in sight of Raymond James Stadium (where the Buccaneers play their home games) and is one of the livelier and better known of the restaurant locations.
Known for: Great wings and a diverse crowd from family friendly to action-packed
Walter’s Press Box Sports Emporium & Eatery is one of the oldest and most famous sports bars in Tampa. The Press Box delivers complete coverage of every NFL game each Sunday on its 23 TVs, and is a great place to go to watch any of your favorite sports. Perhaps most well-known for the number of local sports figures that have appeared there over the years; however, the Press Box is also popular for its wide array of drinks; specials; and delicious menu of wings, sandwiches, and pizza.
Known for: Co-eds, drink specials and large outdoor seating area
Located in South Tampa in the historic Hyde Park neighborhood, MacDinton’s Irish Pub & Restaurant is one of the most exciting sports bars during major sporting events. With ample TVs, an outdoor seating area and rustic interior, MacDinton’s is a great place to catch a game with friends. Also, if you’re a fan of international sports – especially soccer and rugby – MacDinton’s will quickly become your favorite Tampa sports bar. MacDinton’s is really an adult-oriented sports bar, and definitely not the type of place you’ll want to bring your kids. Alcoholic beverages, drinking games and drink specials are a prime part of the menu, and fun, at MacDinton’s.
Known for: Relaxed atmosphere and cheap drinks
Established in 1986, Bobalouie’s Grille & Sports Garden is North Tampa Bay’s largest sports bar and is widely recognized for great food, complete sports programming and excellent service. Bobalouie’s, located near the University of South Florida and New Tampa, has 16 new wide-screen plasma HD-TVs and free Wi-Fi Internet access. It provides complete sports programming and now has NFL Sunday Ticket, MLB package and World Cup Soccer matches. Bobalouie’s has a relaxed and lively nightlife and offers karaoke for all of ‘The Voice’ and ‘American Idol’ hopefuls.
Known for: Upscale sports bar with all the bells and whistles to complete your game day experience
The two sports bars and restaurants, owned by former NBA star Matt Geiger, are all about great food and sports in an upscale environment. Courtside Grille is one of the most chic and trendy bar sports bars around with 9,500 square feet of sports loving room that includes 32 TV screens and plasma monitors and four giant 5×7 cinema screens. Both Courtside Grille locations offer Sunday NFL Tailgate specials: Tailgate Gold Sunday, $25, provides all you can eat burgers, brats, chicken sandwiches and hot dogs, plus all you can drink wells, house wines, Coors and Miller Lite. The Tailgate Platinum, $35, delivers all you can eat and drink; including calls, house wine, drafts, Miller Lite and Coors bottles. The St. Petersburg location does a Saturday afternoon college football pig roast for under $20 with all the draft beer and pig you can eat.
Known for: New Orleans and Cajun inspired food located in Centro Ybor
Blue Dog Bistro is one of the best sports bars in Tampa not just because you can watch a wide variety of games, but also due to its location in Centro Ybor and hottt food selection. Blue Dog specializes in American and Cajun cuisine and is the hang-out for all New Orleans lovers. If you’re craving gumbo, jambalaya or a poboy, then you’ve found the right place. In addition to 35 TV’s broadcasting all Direct TV Sports and ESPN sports programming, Blue Dog Bistro offers drink specials and specialized menus for the games. They’ll even host your fantasy football league’s draft.
9. Barnacles – Brandon
Known for: Tons of TV’s and family friendly environment
No place, including Best Buy, has more televisions than Barnacles. In fact, it’s impossible to find a seat that doesn’t have a view of at least six screens at once. The restaurant is huge, so it usually isn’t difficult to get a table or a seat at the bar, even on a busy game day. The atmosphere is family friendly and features a large, well-appointed game room to occupy the kids, or kids at heart, after their meals. The menu is extensive and offers plenty of choices, but their specialty is seafood. If your main objective is to find a good sports bar where you can actually see the game, you can’t beat Barnacles.
Known for: Competition at every corner and daily drink specials
No matter who you are, you will find something to keep you entertained at Peabody’s. Peabody’s, located in New Tampa, offers NFL, NHL, NBA, NCAA Football and Basketball and UFC sports packages on its 70 TVs and plasmas, including 10 foot screens for the ultimate sports experience. If you’re waiting for your game to come on, or sick of your team’s performance – don’t fret! Peabody’s is stacked with pool tables, dartboards, foosball, weekly poker and pool tournaments and a beerpong competition. And if none of those appeals to you, then pull up a stool at one of its four full-liquor bars or wander over to its on-premise liquor store.
By: Nicole Kasak