This is the time of time where people are looking at future calendars for vacation plans, trips around Florida, and events they want to attend. As a sports editor, my father took paid close attention when major “must-see” events were scheduled.
With 1,000 miles of beach, 8,426 miles of shoreline, 1100 golf courses, 10 major league teams, and 15 Major League teams in Grapefruit training, there’s a lot of sports events, but I will show you a few entertainments you might want to put on your calendar.
Here is a look at Florida’s greatest 2019 Sporting Events and I threw in a few niche events that might prove attractive to readers who want a different experience.
Normally the New Year would start off in Miami with the grand-daddy of Florida football bowls- the Orange Bowl – but this year it’s on Dec 29 as a Top 4 playoff game between #1 Alabama vs #4 Oklahoma. January 1 is reserved for Tampa’s Outback Bowl And Orlando’s Citrus Bowl.
#1 Alabama vs #4 Oklahoma
Football is such big business in Florida, Orlando has THREE bowls: Citrus, Cure Bowl (Dec 15), and Camping Bowl (Dec 28) while Tampa has two, adding the Gasparilla (Dec 20). On Dec 31, Jacksonville’s old Gator Bowl is now the Taxslayer Bowl. There is even a Boca Raton Bowl (Dec 15).
What is most amusing this year is that of Florida’s local teams only South Florida (in Gasparilla Bowl) is playing on local turf. Florida (Atlanta), UCF (Arizona), Miami (New York City) and FIU (the Bahamas) are playing away. I hope the Hurricanes like snow.
Incredibly I was the sports editor at the Miami Hurricane student newspaper at the University of Miami when they went to the Gotham Bowl. I think 5,000 people showed up in the old Yankee Stadium.
The PGA National has a lot of water and sand
Snowbird and winter golfers love the fact that the PGA and LPGA play in Florida in February and March with the PGA National at Palm Beach (Feb28), the Arnold Palmer at Punta Verde (Mar 7), and the Vaspar Innisbrook (Mar 21) in St. Petersburg.
The LPGA opens its tour in Lake Buena Vista at the Four Seasons Diamond Resorts (Jan 17) and has its Tour Championship Nov 21 in Naples.
Tennis in a football stadium?
If you like controversy and the unusual, you might want to be in 65,000 seat Hard Rock football stadium on March 18 for the Miami Open Tennis tournament, a hard court ATP and WTA event that outgrew Crandon Park. How they divide up and “tent” the needed courts will be something to imagine.
The tiny Sebring Airport Become Car Race Special
Speaking of crowds – 150,000 will certainly show up February 17 for the 2019 Daytona 500, the first of several major races on the big track. If you like your automobiles on a roadway, you will mark March 13 as the date of the 67th Annual Twelve Hours of Sebring. These are social events as much as sporting events.
As an old New Englander, I know a lot of us might be interested that on February 23, the defending world champion Boston Red Sox will open 2019 Grapefruit League competition against the New York Yankees in JetBlue Park in Fort Myers. They will be joined by 14 other Major League teams.
The Green Monster Travels to Southwest Florida
And I hate to say this but Florida’s most gigantic family multi-day sports event is usually filled up by this time. The Walt Disney Marathon now goes from January 9 to 13 and features numerous race events. I thought the Dopey Challenge was a little far-out, but I see you can try to win six medals and beat the Dopey Challenge. Sounds about right.