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Which pro team to pick? A Tampa Bay fan’s viewing guide

The Lightning, Rays and Bucs all play next Sunday. Double screen? Battle for the remote? Sports viewers weigh in on their options.
From left, Bucs quarterback Tom Brady, Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow and Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. All three Tampa Bay sports teams will be in action next Sunday.
From left, Bucs quarterback Tom Brady, Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow and Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. All three Tampa Bay sports teams will be in action next Sunday. [ DIRK SHADD | Times; Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP ]
Published Sep. 6, 2020
Updated Sep. 7, 2020

This may be a good problem to have. It’s not every day that Tampa Bay sports fans are lucky enough to be able to spend it watching all three home teams compete in games that count. It will happen Sunday for the second time.

The Rays, who are contending for the playoffs, will finish their series against the Red Sox at Tropicana Field at 1:10 p.m. on Fox Sports Sun. The Lightning will face the Islanders in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final in Edmonton at 3 on NBC. And the Bucs will kick off their season and debut Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski against the Saints in New Orleans at 4:25 on Fox.

All three teams also played games that count on the same day on Oct. 5, 2008.

What a predicament for Tampa Bay sports fans Sunday. Or not.

Benjamin Cumberlidge, 31, of Lakeland, said the day will be no different for him than any other weekend sports day. Cumberlidge likes to watch the Heat and Lightning, so he typically uses a two-TV setup when the teams are playing at the same time.

“This is nothing new for a fan of teams from different markets,” he said.

Benjamin Cumberlidge uses a two-television setup when multiple teams are playing at the same time, like the Tampa Bay sports market will experience on Sunday. Cumberlidge said he'll tune into the Lightning's Game 4 against the Islanders and the Bucs-Saints season opener on the other.
Benjamin Cumberlidge uses a two-television setup when multiple teams are playing at the same time, like the Tampa Bay sports market will experience on Sunday. Cumberlidge said he'll tune into the Lightning's Game 4 against the Islanders and the Bucs-Saints season opener on the other. [ Benjamin Cumberlidge ]

Cumberlidge said he’ll pull out the TV from his home office, which his wife, Sara, has helped him turn into a mini man cave with sports paraphernalia. He’ll set up in the living room so he can watch the Lightning and Bucs play at the same time. He’ll hook up his computer to the smaller television for the Bucs stream.

Brooks Roland, 38, of Tampa, also opts for a two-TV setup on weekends like this. Roland said he is a casual baseball fan and really pays attention to the NFL and NHL.

He’ll start off the day with the Rays on one TV and NFL coverage on the other, then will switch the NFL to the Lightning at puck drop. The Rays will stay on the second screen unless it’s a blowout, then the NFL will get the nod.

“Once the Bucs are about to kick off, I’ll make sure they’re on the second TV,” he said.

Chris Beltz, 43, of Palm Harbor, will use the two-TV setup between his patio and living room. He and his wife, Audrey, have been Lightning season-ticket holders since 2011 and don’t miss many games.

The plan is to watch the Bucs on the main screen in the living room and leave the smaller screen for the Lightning, though Beltz joked he might have to negotiate some extra chores around the house; Audrey prefers the Lightning. He usually streams the Rays on his iPad.

“The Rays have the (American League) East (title) close to locked up, so they won’t be a priority until October,” he said.

Danielle Manning, 31, of Largo, watches Lightning games with her 7-year-old son, Cooper. Danielle commandeers the couch, while Cooper looks on from his special gaming chair in the middle of the room.

“It’s kind of become a superstition for us,” she said.

Douglas Harvey, 29, of Venice, said he isn’t much of an NFL fan because of the lack of action compared to the time each play takes. He loves watching the Lightning. As for baseball, he’s a casual fan who checks the scores but doesn’t tune into the games.

“For me, the packed Sunday schedule isn’t too much of an issue,” he said.

Marybeth Freibott, 27, of St. Petersburg, said her boyfriend, Ethan Pfab, already had made arrangements so she could watch the Bucs and Rays at home.

They stream all the sports on their television in the living room, but on Sunday they’ll move the bedroom television to help accommodate the busy day. The larger screen is reserved for the Lightning. As for the Rays, the couple will manage on a phone or computer.

“The priority will be the Lightning if this all doesn’t work out,” she said.

Zachary Beldon, 27, of Denton, Texas, is working toward a doctorate in higher education and sports management. He has an exam to work on, the last requirement before he gets to work on his thesis/dissertation. Beldon grew up in Tampa and has followed the sports market since he was a child.

“I’ll probably have games on in the background since I have a few days to take the exam at home (it’s an essay exam),” he said. “I just don’t know how I will have time to manage them both at the same time.”

Here are some things other fans had to say:

Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.