Photo of a New York Yankees spring training game at Steinbrenner Field.

George M. Steinbrenner Field

Image Credit: Joseph Brent (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Every summer, Florida sees some of it's largest baseball audiences invade Marlins Park and Tropicana Field to see two New York teams; the New York Yankees and the New York Mets. The New York Yankees have a minor league affiliate known as the Tampa Yankees. The New York Mets have a minor league team in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Native New Yorker Dick Vitale is a season ticket holder for the Tampa Bay Rays. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter lives in Tampa during the off-season. Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez lives in Miami during the off-season. But why? New York City is 1200 and 1500 miles from Tampa and Miami. To understand why there are so many New York Yankees fans in Florida, you must first understand why there are so many New Yorkers in Florida to begin with. 

The amount of New York accents you will hear in the sunshine state can actually be overwhelming. As it turns out, Florida has forever been that state that New Yorkers want to eventually "get to" or retire to. One of the main reasons for the large New York population is that people get tired of the harsh weathers that New York City experiences. Being located next to the Atlantic Ocean only makes the winters tougher.

New Yorkers also grow tired of the taxes that they're required to pay to live in the city. There are no estate or income taxes in Florida which makes the state very attractive to retirees on fixed incomes. In New York City, there are even tedious taxes like the "cigarette tax". The lower cost of living in Florida is also tied into this. It also makes the opportunity of owning a car a reality for New Yorkers that may have never owned one.

New Yorkers are also very imitative of each other. It's not uncommon for native New Yorkers to follow their friends and family members to Florida. 

As you already know, the Yankees are the pride of New York and the Mets have a large fan base as well. When the Yankees visit Tropicana Field to play their rival Tampa Bay Rays like they do multiple times each season, it's usually a capacity crowd. Otherwise, Tropicana Field is one of the worst drawing ballparks in Major League Baseball. The same can be said for Marlins Park when the New York Mets visit the Miami Marlins multiple times each season. 

It doesn't stop at Major League Baseball either. Commissioner Gary Bettman knew that the NHL would draw well in South Florida when they added the Florida Panthers as an expansion team in 1993. Instead of building the team's arena in downtown Miami, ownership put the arena in suburban Sunrise, Florida so the transplanted New York population would have easy access to it. New Yorkers love hockey and when the New York Rangers and New York Islanders come to Amalie Arena (Tampa Bay Lightning) and the BB&T Center (Florida Panthers), it's always a packed house. 

The New York Yankees are popular everywhere. 27 World Series titles makes them sexy in the eyes of sports fans. Just know that when you see nothing but navy blue and pinstripes at a ballpark in Florida when you visit, it's because those fans actually have roots to New York City and aren't riding the Yankee bandwagon. 



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