As many of you know, we've been launching 20 regional sites in 20 days throughout June. This week is the final week and we only have three more sites to go. Last week we launched SB Nation Tampa Bay and leading that site is one of the few new bloggers we've added to our ranks in that process and that's Gregg Burrage. I thought it would be a good idea for you to get to know the newest member of our SB Nation family, so without further ado, let's get to know Gregg Burrage.Tyler Bleszinski: Tell me how you came to be involved at SB Nation.
Gregg Burrage: John Fontana, the editor of Raw Charge is a good friend of mine. He turned me on to SB Nation, and recommended me for the Regional hub editor position.
Bleszinski: You're going to be running the Tampa Bay regional site for SB Nation. Tell me about what you want that site to be like.
Gregg Burrage: I want the site to be a fun place for the casual sports fan to keep caught up on their favorite teams and sports in the area. We don't plan to inundate with statistics, but do want to make sure we have the latest news up in a timely fashion. We also plan a heavy emphasis on more of the sideline aspects - what the fans are doing, off-the-field stories, athletes in social media, and that sort of thing.
Bleszinski: Have you been a Tampa sports fan your whole life?
Gregg Burrage: I began following the Buccaneers in the mid-80s, and they were terrible. But, it was easy to get tickets. In fact, I've been with that team so long, my season tickets are in the front row. I also followed the Rowdies a bit, as well as the Tampa Bay Bandits of the USFL. The hockey team came along in the early 90s, and I had season tickets for them for a while, too. I went to the Devil Rays' first game, and get to a dozen of those games a year.
Bleszinski: How would you describe the sports scene in Tampa?
Gregg Burrage: Sports is huge here. But more participate in it, rather than observe. People here run competitively, join local sports team leagues, go fishing for sport, engage in water sports, skateboard, and much, much, more. Since there is no real winter, there is no off-season to keep us from going outside and doing stuff.
Bleszinski: What's your favorite Tampa team and why?
Gregg Burrage: Like many folks around here, I like the Bucs. I've had the chance to root for them the longest, and suffered with them through some terrible seasons of football. I had to defend and stick by that team in response to newcomers from Chicago, New England, Michigan, and other places, where the Bucs were the butt of jokes. I was finally vindicated in 2002. Of course, now we're back to being pretty bad - I just hope it doesn't last 20 years again.
By the way, I want to point out that I do like all the local sports teams, and root for them without exception. They just have not been around as long, and both have achieved greater success in a shorter period of time.
Bleszinski: The Bucs and Lightning have both brought championships to the area. When will the Rays join that group?
Gregg Burrage: In 2010. And beyond, if we can work out this stadium thing.
Bleszinski: Despite the Bucs and Lightning winning championships, it seems like teams in Tampa have a hard time drawing huge crowds. Why do you think that is? Or am I totally off base not being from the area?
Gregg Burrage: I don't think you are off-base. And in fact, this is going to be a subject we will soon discuss in depth on SB Nation Tampa Bay. But for the quick and dirty, I see three main reasons:
There are so many things to do in the Tampa Bay area, that it is difficult for any single entertainment choice to sustain attention. For sports teams, the exception is when they are winning. I mentioned earlier that Bucs tickets were easy to come by when they were going 2-14, but by 1997, the stadium was THEE place to be seen.
Also, Tampa Bay is a melting pot. When people want a big change, they often choose to move to Florida. There are pockets of dedicated fans for each of the local teams here, but because many folks here are from somewhere else, they hold on to their allegiences tightly. You can tell by the crowds that show up at local bars that cater to specific out-of-town teams.
Further, there is not any long-standing tradition passed down through generations. The Buccaneers have the market on longevity, and they've only been here for 32 years. The kids who first began going to Bucs games in the late 70s, their children are now about to get married and have the originals' grandchildren, so it's beginning for them. The Lightning is only 18 years old, and the Rays are not even in their teens yet.
There is a bit more to it, but I believe those three contribute significantly to the lack of attendance at pro sports venues here.
Bleszinski: What's your all-time favorite Tampa sports moment?
Gregg Burrage: Tough question - will make a good Power Ranking, too. Some would say when the Bucs beat the Raiders in the Super Bowl. I'd say that when the Bucs beat Philadelphia in the 2002 NFC Championship, that was pretty good. Any of the 4 Super Bowls we hosted might be up there. Lightning winning the Stanley Cup, or the parade afterward - those were good, too. We've had the Final Four here, an NHL All-Star game,
Bleszinski: Who is your all-time favorite Tampa athlete?
Gregg Burrage: Lee Roy Selmon, followed closely by Warren Sapp.
Bleszinski: Finally, tell me something about yourself that people might not expect or might surprise people.
Gregg Burrage: I sing in a rock 'n' roll band on the weekends. Check us out at the Proud Lion Pub http://www.proudlionpub.com/ sometime.
Bleszinski: Thanks so much, we're thrilled to have you as a part of the network and look forward to the great success of SB Nation Tampa Bay.