Bucs, Lightning, Rays transform Tampa Bay into Titletown

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

TAMPA, Fla. – Fans, many of them of them not wearing masks, poured into downtown streets and packed bars and nightclubs around the city to celebrate another professional sports title for Tampa Bay, which is building a reputation as a home of champions.

Los Angeles has reigning world champs in baseball's Dodgers and basketball's Lakers, however, it’s difficult to top the collective success of this region’s Super Bowl-winning Buccaneers, Stanley Cup champion Lightning and World Series runner-up Rays while playing through challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s hard enough to win a title in any sport, let alone the same city being able to nab two and almost get another at the same time,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Monday.

Super Bowl Sunday was a travel day for the Lightning, who flew to Nashville, where they watched Tampa Bay’s 31-9 rout of the Kansas City Chiefs as a group at their team hotel.

“Congrats@Buccaneers! Thanks for the birthday present,” captain Steven Stamkos, who turned 31, wrote on Twitter, where he also posted a photo of teammates posing in Bucs gear in front a giant television screen showing Tom Brady celebrating after the game.

“You feel like you’ve got a stake in the game when it’s your home team. That was the cool part about watching the game and watching all the guys in the room cheer. It was a really cool feeling,” Cooper said. “I know we’re not part of the NFL, but you feel a part of it. So it was great. Impressive. What a showing. It was fun to watch.”

The Lightning made their entire postseason run in NHL playoff bubbles set up in Canada, hoisting the Stanley Cup for the second time in franchise history in September.

The following month, Major League Baseball’s Rays captured their second American League pennant in a bubble setting in California before losing to the Dodgers in six games during a neutral-site World Series played in Texas.