Our countdown of 2017’s biggest local sports stories begins

Counting Major League Soccer, there are ten professional sports franchises in the state of Florida, as well as six nationally-notable college football programs.

It’s a lot to cover in any year, and it gives us a lot to look back on at the end of 2017.  Florida was the site of all manner of sports stories in just about every sport, so many that even a list of the seventeen biggest Florida sports moments will leave things on the cutting room floor.

There was no room on this list to properly address Tiger Woods’ winding comeback trail, the disaster that has been the 2017 Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ season, rumors swirling around Jon Gruden, the Miami Heat, the Orlando Magic, or Orlando City Football Club.  Doral was absent from the PGA Tour schedule in 2017 and the Players Championship continues to impress, but even in the Golf Capitol of the World there simply wasn’t room to give either event much time.

The countdown will last the rest of the week, with the top story in Florida sports coming on Saturday as the finale.

17:  A Ray of Hope in Tampa

In late October, with the World Series going on and baseball within the state of Florida in a state of transition, it was announced that the Tampa Bay Rays have selected a preferred site for a potential ballpark in Hillsborough County.

The new stadium would go in the Ybor City neighborhood, not far from Channelside and Amalie Arena.  The transformation of downtown Tampa has become the model for sports in the area, and the prospect of the Rays doing something similar in Ybor is an attractive one.

It is important to know that, when talking about the Rays and their future,