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Tampa Bay fans celebrate ‘Champa Bay’ day at Valspar Championship

Fans could pose for photos with the Vince Lombardi Trophy, the William Harridge Trophy, the USL Eastern Conference Championship trophy and a replica of the Stanley Cup.
Published May 3
Updated May 3

PALM HARBOR — It’s not often that four championship trophies are in one place. So when the opportunity came, Ron Johansson and his son, Jason, knew where they wanted to be on the last day of the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook.

Positioned alongside the ninth tee and the eighth green on the Copperhead Course, the Bucs’ Vince Lombardi Trophy, the Rays’ American League championship trophy, , the Rowdies’ USL Championship Eastern Conference championship trophy and a replica of the Lightning’s Stanley Cup sat on separate podiums and offered a chance for fans to have photos taken with the hardware.

It was the second time three of the real trophies were in the same place, following Tampa Bay’s “Champions Day” on April 23.

“To see all the trophies here was fabulous,” said Ron Johansson, 60, of Seminole. “It just shows you what a great area (this) is. We’re the best. We’re Champa Bay.”

Ron Johansson and his son, Jason, celebrate Champa Bay Day at the Valspar Championship.
Ron Johansson and his son, Jason, celebrate Champa Bay Day at the Valspar Championship. [ Mari Faiello ]

And though the Stanley Cup wasn’t the real one — the one on display was the same replica the players on the team received — the Johanssons were happy all the same.

“I’ve been a Lightning fan since I was on (his father’s) shoulders at the last (Cup) parade (in 2004),” said Jason, of Clearwater. “Seeing it again as a 22-year-old was awesome.”

Being able to see all the trophies together wasn’t something the Johanssons expected to experience, especially because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I didn’t know what was going to transpire here, so this is awesome,” Ron said.

Cole Valerius and his brother, Cade, were excited to see the hardware, too.

Tampa Bay Buccaneer Scotty Miller hugs the Vince Lombardi trophy at the 18th hole at the Copperhead Course on Sunday, May 2, 2021, at the conclusion of the final round of the Valspar Championship at the Innisbrook Golf and Spa Resort in Palm Harbor.
Tampa Bay Buccaneer Scotty Miller hugs the Vince Lombardi trophy at the 18th hole at the Copperhead Course on Sunday, May 2, 2021, at the conclusion of the final round of the Valspar Championship at the Innisbrook Golf and Spa Resort in Palm Harbor. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

Cole, 10, and Cade, 7, of Lutz saw some of the teams compete for their championships on TV. The brothers stayed up late enjoying the celebrations together. But getting to see the shiny pieces of silver was a new experience.

“When I saw the (AL trophy), it made me just say, ‘Oh, wow. How cool is that,’ ” Cade said.

Shane Hutchens and his daughter, McKinley, came ready in their Lightning gear. Shane, 47, wore a 2020 Champions T-shirt, while McKinley, 18, braved the warm weather in her blue Stamkos jersey. It was their first time seeing the trophies, too.

Shane Hutchens and his daughter, McKinley, celebrate Champa Bay Day at the Valspar Championship.
Shane Hutchens and his daughter, McKinley, celebrate Champa Bay Day at the Valspar Championship. [ Mari Faiello ]

“It was really cool to get up close,” said Shane, of New Port Richey. “It was cool that Tampa Bay actually had that sort of season last season.”

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