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The Largest Selection of Wholesale Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Products in Tampa

When it comes to trying new, exciting cuisine, few foods hit the spot like a deliciously fresh Mediterranean meal. However, we know that it can be very difficult to find authentic Mediterranean grocery wholesalers in Tampa, FL. Having lived in metro Atlanta for years, we realized that our customers needed an easy way to find quality wholesale Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food in bulk. That is why we created Nazareth Grocery Mediterranean Market - to give everyone a chance to enjoy tasty, healthy food, desserts, and authentic Mediterranean gifts at wholesale prices.

Founded in 2009, Nazareth Grocery has become one of Tampa's leading international wholesale grocery stores. We are very proud to serve our customers and do everything in our power to give them the largest selection of high-quality wholesale goods available.

If you're looking for the freshest, most delicious Middle Eastern wholesale products and ingredients, you will find them here at the best prices in the state. We encourage you to swing by our store in Marietta to see our selection for yourself. We think that you will be impressed!

The Nazareth Difference

At Nazareth Grocery Mediterranean Market, our mission is simple: bring you and your family the largest selection of wholesale Mediterranean products in Tampa. When coupled with our helpful, friendly staff and authentic Middle Eastern atmosphere, it's easy to see why we are the top Middle Eastern grocery wholesaler in Tampa, FL. We're proud to carry just about every kind of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern product that you can think of, from prepared meals and hookahs to fine seasonings and sweets. We're here for our customers and want each one of them to have a unique, one-of-a-kind experience when they shop with us.

Our loyal customers love our selection of the following wholesale foods and gifts:

  • Fresh Breads
  • OlivesOlives
  • HummusHummus
  • CheesesCheeses
  • SaucesSauces
  • Savory-FoodsSavory Foods
  • DessertsDesserts
  • DrinksDrinks
  • HookahsHookahs
  • TobaccoTobacco
  • SaucesGifts
  • Much More!Much More!

Our Service Areas

Most Popular Wholesale Mediterranean Foods

There is so much more to Mediterranean food than pizza and pasta. The perfect climate combined with delicious foods and amazing wine makes the Mediterranean incredibly irresistible. That's why our customers absolutely love to buy this kind of cuisine in bulk. Every country in this region has its own set of specialties and delicacies, each with its own flavors and styles of preparation.

Mediterranean countries include:

  • France
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Turkey
  • Syria
  • Egypt
  • Israel
  • Libya
  • Morocco
  • Tunisia
  • Spain
Mediterranean Grocery Tampa, FL

So, when it comes to the most popular wholesale Mediterranean products in Tampa,
what are we talking about?

 Mediterranean Supermarkets Tampa, FL

Feta Cheese

Feta cheese is a classic Mediterranean dairy product that is often enjoyed on its own, in Greek salads, on bread, or mixed with zucchini. Depending on where the feta is sourced and produced, the cheese can be made from cow, sheep, or goat milk, or even a combination of the three. Regardless of the animal it comes from, this delicious cheese is a crowd favorite.

 Mediterranean Grocery Store Tampa, FL

Baba Ganoush

This Levantine dish is one of the most well-known Mediterranean dishes to eat in the United States. It typically comes in the form of a dip, served with pita or another kind of dipping bread. Commonly served before dinner as an appetizer of sorts, it usually features tahini, eggplant, garlic, spices, and sometimes yogurt. This tasty cuisine works great as a spread on a sandwich, or you can even eat it with a spoon, all on its own.

 Middle Eastern Grocery Tampa, FL


If you have never tried authentic baklava before, get ready to have your mind blown. This dessert is a traditional Mediterranean food that will have your taste buds craving more and more. Once you open a box of baklava from our Mediterranean grocery wholesaler in Tampa, FL, you won't want to stop eating! Baklava is made with layers of thin filo dough, which is layered together, filled with chopped nuts (think pistachios), and sealed with honey or syrup. Baklava is so good that its origins are debated, leaving many wondering which country invented the dessert. Everyone from the Turks to the Greeks and even Middle Easterners hold unique takes on baklava. Try each one to discover your favorite!

Most Popular Wholesale Middle Eastern Foods

Fresh, healthy, aromatic, rich: it's no wonder that the popularity of Middle Eastern cuisine and products has skyrocketed in the United States. This genre of cuisine features a large variety of foods, from Halvah to Labneh. If there were one common theme throughout all Middle Eastern food, it would be the bright, vibrant herbs and spices that are used. These flavorings help create rich, complex flavors that foodies fawn over. Typically, Middle Eastern food is piled high for all to eat, with enough food for an entire republic to put down.

 Mediterranean Food Stores Tampa, FL


This refreshing, healthy dish is chock-full of greens, herbs, tomatoes, and bulgur (or cracked wheat), creating a memorable, bold flavor. This dish may be eaten on its own or paired with a shawarma sandwich or helping of falafel. It's best to buy your ingredients in bulk to make this dish because it tastes best freshly made with family around to enjoy. Just be sure to bring a toothpick to the tabbouleh party - you're almost certain to have some leafy greens stuck in your teeth after eating.

 Middle Eastern Market Tampa, FL


We mentioned shawarma above, and for good reason - this dish is enjoyed by men and women around the world, and of course, right here in the U.S. Except for falafel, this might be the most popular Middle Eastern food item in history. Shawarma is kind of like a Greek gyro, with slow-roasted meat stuffed in laffa with veggies and sauce. The blend of spices and the smoky meat mix together to create a tangy, meaty flavor that you will want to keep eating for hours. For western-style shawarma, try using beef or chicken. For a more traditional meal, try using lamb from our Middle Eastern grocery distributor in Tampa, FL.

 Greek Grocery Store Tampa, FL


Traditionally used as a dip meant for fresh pita, hummus is a combo of chickpeas, garlic, and tahini, blended together until silky, smooth, and creamy. You can find hummus in just about any appetizer section of a Middle Eastern restaurant menu. That's because it's considered a staple of Middle Eastern food that can be enjoyed by itself, as a spread, or with fresh-baked pita bread. Hummus is also very healthy, making it a no-brainer purchase from our grocery store.

Benefits of Eating a Mediterranean Diet

If there's one diet that is most well-known for its health benefits, it has got to be the Mediterranean diet. In 2019, U.S. News & World Report listed the Mediterranean diet as No. 1 on its best over diet list. This incredible diet has been cited to help with weight loss, brain health, heart health, diabetes prevention, and cancer prevention.

Whether you already love Mediterranean food or you're looking to make some positive changes in your life, this "diet" is for you. Eating cuisine like Greek food, Persian food, Turkish food, and Italian food is healthy and tastes great. Even better than that? At Nazareth Wholesale Grocery, we have many staples of the Mediterranean diet for sale in bulk so that you can stock up on your favorites at the best prices around.

So, what exactly is the Mediterranean diet?

It is a way of eating that incorporates traditional Greek, Italian, and other Mediterranean cultures' foods. These foods are often plant-based and make up the foundation of the diet, along with olive oil. Fish, seafood, dairy, and poultry are also included in moderation. Red meat and sweets are only eaten in moderation, not in abundance. Mediterranean food includes many forms of nuts, fruits, vegetables, fish, seeds, and more. Of course, you can find at them all at our wholesale Mediterranean grocery store!

Here are just a few of the many benefits of eating a healthy Mediterranean diet:

Reduced Risk of Heart Disease

Reduced Risk
of Heart Disease

Many studies have been conducted on this diet, many of which report that Mediterranean food is excellent for your heart. Some of the most promising evidence comes from a randomized clinical trial published in 2013. For about five years, researchers followed 7,000 men and women around the country of Spain. These people had type 2 diabetes or were at a high risk for cardiovascular disease. Participants in the study who ate an unrestricted Mediterranean diet with nuts and extra-virgin olive oil were shown to have a 30% lower risk of heart events.

Reduced Risk of Stroke for Women

Reduced Risk
of Stroke for Women

In addition to the heart-healthy benefits of a Mediterranean diet, studies have shown that eating healthy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foods can reduce the chances of stroke in women. The study was conducted in the U.K., which included women between the ages of 40 and 77. Women who stuck to the Mediterranean diet showed a lower risk of having a stroke - especially women who were at high risk of having one.

Benefits of Eating a Mediterranean Diet

First and foremost, purchase your Mediterranean and Middle Eastern wholesale foods from Nazareth Grocery - we're always updating our inventory! Getting started on this healthy, delicious diet is easy.

Try these tips:

Try these tips


Instead of unhealthy sweets like candy and ice cream, try eating fresh fruit instead. It's refreshing, tasty, and often packed with great vitamins and nutrients.


Try eating fish twice a week, in lieu of red meat. Fish is much healthier and doesn't have the unfortunate side effects of red meat, like inflammation.


Try planning out your meals using beans, whole grains, and veggies. Don't start with meats and sweets.


They're tasty, but try to avoid processed foods completely.


Instead of using butter to flavor your food, use extra virgin olive oil instead. Olive oil contains healthy fats and tastes great too.


Try to get more exercise and get out of the house. The Mediterranean lifestyle is an active one, best enjoyed in the beautiful sunshine when possible.

Why Buy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Products Wholesale?

Buying wholesale and retail are quite different. When you buy products from a wholesaler, you're essentially buying from the middleman between a retail establishment and the manufacturer. Wholesale purchases are almost always made in bulk. Because of that, buyers pay a discounted price. That's great for normal buyers and great for business owners, who can sell those products to profit. This higher price is called the retail price, and it is what traditional customers pay when they enter a retail store.

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 Middle Eastern Store Tampa, FL

Latest News in Tampa, FL

Giving Props: Best player bets for the Vikings against Tampa

The National Football League is a league where you can bet on pretty much anything, from the results of the game itself to the production of individual players and things that are markedly more obscure. Going into each game this season, we’re going to take a look at some of those wagers and which way you could potentially lean on those, courtesy of our friends at the ...

The National Football League is a league where you can bet on pretty much anything, from the results of the game itself to the production of individual players and things that are markedly more obscure. Going into each game this season, we’re going to take a look at some of those wagers and which way you could potentially lean on those, courtesy of our friends at the DraftKings Sportsbook.

Here are a few potential lines from this weekend’s season opener for the Minnesota Vikings (-4.5)

against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+4.5) that seem to be particularly intriguing.

Justin Jefferson, 74.5 receiving yards: Over (-210) or Under (+170)

We’ll start off with the reigning and defending Offensive Player of the Year. As we know, Jefferson went off in last year’s season opener with a pair of touchdowns and over 180 yards receiving. The Buccaneers are likely going to be heavily focused on Jefferson in this one, but I’m not sure it’s going to matter. Jefferson had a bit of a quiet end to last season and will no doubt want to get off on the right foot this week. I’m just not sure how much the Bucs will be able to do about it.

The play: Over

Alexander Mattison, 54.5 rushing yards: Over (-235) or Under (+190)

This will be Mattison’s first season as the unquestioned #1 back in the Vikings’ offense with Dalvin Cook out of the picture, and the Vikings appear to be re-committing to the run after a season where they were 27th in the NFL in rushing attempts. With the team looking to use more multiple tight end sets, they’ll likely try to establish the run early and often. The Bucs were pretty solid against the run last season and the thought of Vita Vea against the Minnesota interior o-line is pretty frightening, but I think that Mattison can still get that number.

The play: Over

Kirk Cousins longest pass: 35+ yards (-165), 40+ yards (+100), 45+ yards (+165), 50+ yards (+255)

Cousins, for whatever reason, has a reputation of being a checkdown artist, though I think at least a bit of that was dispelled last season. I think that the weapons Cousins has around him are all capable of turning short passes into long ones, and guys like Jefferson and K.J. Osborn have shown that they can get open deep, too. I think Cousins is going to pop at least one long pass in this one, so we’ll go with the long odds here.

The play: 50+ yards

Those are the plays to make for this week, at least in my opinion. As always, your mileage may vary.

Justin Jefferson

O/U Receiving Yards (vs. TB)89.5

O/U Receptions Made (vs. TB)7.5

O/U Longest Reception (vs. TB)26.5

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.

Maple Leafs seek spark in return to Tampa Bay after playoff triumph

The Toronto Maple Leafs are returning to the scene of their biggest postseason moment of the past 19 years.When the Maple Leafs walk into Amalie Arena for their game against the host Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; BSSUN, NHLN, SNW, SNO, CBC), it will be 175 days since John Tavares’ heroics on that same ice surface on April 29 helped the franchise to its first Stanley Cup Playoff series victory since 2004.Tavares&rsqu...

The Toronto Maple Leafs are returning to the scene of their biggest postseason moment of the past 19 years.

When the Maple Leafs walk into Amalie Arena for their game against the host Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; BSSUN, NHLN, SNW, SNO, CBC), it will be 175 days since John Tavares’ heroics on that same ice surface on April 29 helped the franchise to its first Stanley Cup Playoff series victory since 2004.

Tavares’ shot, aimed at the front of the Lightning net, where teammate Morgan Rielly was standing, deflected off the skate of defenseman Darren Raddysh and past goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy at 4:36 of overtime to give the Maple Leafs a 2-1 victory in Game 6 and a 4-2 series win in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round.

“When you look back at last year, you want to look at the good and the bad, it was an important step for us, one which we hadn’t been on the right side of,” Tavares, the Toronto captain, said this week.

“To do that, it was always a good feeling. It was a chance for us to come together and learn what it takes against a team as accomplished as Tampa.

“I think there’s only positives that can come from that.”

It had been 6,948 days since the Maple Leafs had won a postseason series, that one coming when they eliminated the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. In that time, Toronto went through six general managers, seven coaches, 268 skaters and 33 goalies.

Since 2016 the Maple Leafs had lost six consecutive playoff series. Rielly, Auston Matthews, Mitchell Marner and William Nylander were all part of those. Ten times in that span they’d had chances to eliminate an opponent and advance. Ten times they failed.

Then the narrative changed, thanks in part to Tavares.

But the euphoria of what Matthews at the time called “a big monkey off our backs” didn’t last long. Less than two weeks later they were eliminated by the Florida Panthers in the second round.

“It changes quickly,” Marner said. “We’re looking ahead, not back.”

Standing in their immediate way: A Lightning team seeking retribution against the team that handed them their first opening-round elimination since 2019.

Toronto (2-2-0) comes in having lost two straight, including a 3-1 loss to Florida on Thursday. If the Maple Leafs were looking for revenge against the Panthers for shoving them out of the playoffs, they fell short.

On that same night, the Lightning (2-2-1) defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 to end an 0-2-1 skid, setting the stage for the showdown against the Maple Leafs on "Hockey Night in Canada."

"Going back to the playoffs last year, it was a spirited series,” Tampa Bay forward Tanner Jeannot said. “We felt that we played them hard.

“Coming in, you remember that feeling of getting knocked out early. A lot of guys remember that feeling and they're going to be bringing a lot of passion to that game."

The teams met in the playoffs the past two seasons, each winning once. Tampa Bay eliminated Toronto in seven games in the first round in 2022, one year before the Maple Leafs turned the tables on the Lightning.

"I do think there's a bit of a budding [rivalry] between the two of us just from the simple fact that when you play teams in the playoffs multiple years in a row, there's a little fire in both teams,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “It was a long summer for us for sure and a little bit shorter for them, but not by much. So, I think it's two teams that want to get back to where they were. And with the teams in the division that are chasing us, all of a sudden these games become a little more magnified.

“Anytime Toronto and Tampa get together, they're fun games, so it should be good." independent correspondent Corey Long contributed to this report

2023 NFL trade deadline proposed deals: Derrick Henry to Buccaneers, Brian Burns to Ravens and 13 other moves

USATSI The 2023 NFL season is fast approaching the midway point, which means the trade deadline is also around the corner. Teams are only allowed to strike deals up until 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Oct. 31, and it's safe to say there should be plenty of both buyers and sellers in the coming weeks.With that in mind, here are 15 trade proposals that make some sense:...


The 2023 NFL season is fast approaching the midway point, which means the trade deadline is also around the corner. Teams are only allowed to strike deals up until 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Oct. 31, and it's safe to say there should be plenty of both buyers and sellers in the coming weeks.

With that in mind, here are 15 trade proposals that make some sense:

Buccaneers acquire RB Derrick Henry

The Buccaneers are feisty this year, but they're also one of the game's worst rushing teams, which is a problem when you lean so much on ball-control and defense. The bulldozing Henry is on an expiring deal for a stumbling Titans franchise half-committed to a rebuild, and he might welcome a sunnier change of scenery before a return to the open market in 2024.

Chiefs acquire WR Marquise Brown

Patrick Mahomes has yet to shift the Chiefs offense into high gear even as Kansas City remains atop the AFC West at 5-1. Part of the issue has been a scattershot receiving corps. Brown isn't an alpha out wide, but he's a more proven deep threat than many of K.C.'s younger options. And Arizona should be motivated to sell with "Hollywood" headed for 2024 free agency.

Panthers acquire WR Jerry Jeudy

A year after Kadarius Toney was dealt for a three and a six, Jeudy could be the next mercurial first-rounder to relocate. While he represents Denver's only legit long-term WR prospect at 24, he's failed to hit his stride through three-and-a-half seasons. The Panthers desperately need younger help around QB Bryce Young. Imagine the irony if Jeudy joins Steve Smith's old squad.

Texans acquire WR Courtland Sutton

Houston already has surprisingly splashy targets for young QB C.J. Stroud in Nico Collins and Tank Dell, but the latter's battling injuries. Sutton is a proven possession target who should be for sale in Denver, where Sean Payton could use all the draft capital he can get. He's pricey on a contract that runs through 2025, but maybe the Broncos would eat salary.

Chargers acquire WR Darnell Mooney

Mooney is just two years removed from a 1,000-yard campaign as Chicago's top wideout, but his role has been greatly reduced since D.J. Moore's arrival, and the ailing Bears are still looking to offset the value they lost in the Chase Claypool trade. L.A., meanwhile, could use another deep threat for Justin Herbert after Mike Williams' season-ending injury out wide.

49ers acquire WR Mecole Hardman

A nonfactor in New York despite signing early in free agency, the ex-Chiefs receiver probably covets a return to K.C., where Andy Reid knows how to deploy him as a utility man. But if we have the Chiefs making a bigger splash (see above), how about going to San Francisco, where Deebo Samuel is banged up and Kyle Shanahan could just as easily use him on gadget plays?

Packers acquire TE Zach Ertz

Three years after reportedly inquiring about Ertz when the former Pro Bowler played for the Eagles, Green Bay has a need for an experienced safety valve in an erratic passing game featuring young QB Jordan Love. Ertz, meanwhile, would probably welcome another move while playing in rotation with younger counterpart Tre McBride on a rebuilding Arizona squad.

Rams acquire OT Trent Brown

Los Angeles put an end to its wild spending this offseason, but after a surprisingly splashy 3-3 start, why not give Matthew Stafford some added protection on a low-risk gamble? Brown is a competent starting tackle in New England, but the Patriots are crumbling and could see the former Pro Bowler walk in free agency after the season anyway.

Ravens acquire OLB Brian Burns

Baltimore's homegrown pass rushers have struggled to stay healthy, and the Ravens could use a jolt as they try to keep hold of the tight AFC North. They're also unafraid to make an in-season splash (see: Roquan Smith). Burns is valued in Carolina, but without a long-term deal, his ability to net premium picks could be vital; the Panthers don't currently own a 2024 first-rounder. This deal would of course be dependent on Baltimore immediately inking Burns to a new contract.

Jaguars acquire OLB Danielle Hunter

Jacksonville has Josh Allen thriving off the edge, but more pass-rushing power can't hurt, as Doug Pederson knows well from his days with the Eagles. Hunter is off to a hot start under new coordinator Brian Flores in Minnesota, but the Vikings are reportedly fielding offers as they continue their "competitive rebuild." Maybe the conditional deal is dependent on whether he re-signs.

Falcons acquire DE Carl Lawson

New York paid Lawson big bucks to join the D-line back in 2021, but he's no longer needed in Robert Saleh's ferocious front. Atlanta, meanwhile, is perpetually in need of pass-rushing assistance. Call it a classic low-risk, high-reward swap for a former standout veteran with a once-bloated contract.

Lions acquire DL Leonard Williams

Detroit's defense is on the rise, and with a legit playoff push in sight thanks to a 5-1 start, Williams could be a bonus addition next to Aidan Hutchinson, giving them a more fearsome front. New York's own "D" is staying relatively competitive, but at 1-5, the G-Men should be selling, and their former prized trade acquisition is on an expensive, expiring contract.

Dolphins acquire LB Josey Jewell

Miami looks like a title contender, but Vic Fangio's defense could use some upgrades in the middle. Jewell played under Fangio in Denver and has an expiring deal for a club set to hit the reset button.

Bills acquire CB Jaylon Johnson

Elam was drafted No. 22 overall just a year ago, but he's struggled to acclimate himself in Sean McDermott's secondary, and with Tre'Davious White injured, Buffalo could use a proven cover man for its expected playoff run. Johnson is one of the Bears' top assets, but he might be able to strike a lucrative long-term deal with an actual contender in this scenario.

Eagles acquire S Justin Simmons

Simmons remains a top-tier defensive back going on 30, but that also means he could net Denver its best haul via trade. The Eagles probably don't wanna spend so much for another older veteran in the secondary, but injuries have whittled them down there, and Simmons is at least signed through 2024. A potentially cheaper alternative: the Panthers' Jeremy Chinn.

This new restaurant owned by an actor is opening soon in Tampa

TAMPA — Lepley’s Kitchen and Lounge is opening in the former Social House space in Seminole Heights at the end of this month.It’s named for owner Tyler Lepley, an actor who stars on the shows “Harlem” and “P-Valley.” The soft opening is Saturday, Oct. 28, and Sunday, Oct. 29.Lepley, who is based in Los Angeles, was introduced to Tampa by a friend and business partner. As a traveling man who works all over the country, he found a homey vibe in Tampa. And with research showing growth in t...

TAMPA — Lepley’s Kitchen and Lounge is opening in the former Social House space in Seminole Heights at the end of this month.

It’s named for owner Tyler Lepley, an actor who stars on the shows “Harlem” and “P-Valley.” The soft opening is Saturday, Oct. 28, and Sunday, Oct. 29.

Lepley, who is based in Los Angeles, was introduced to Tampa by a friend and business partner. As a traveling man who works all over the country, he found a homey vibe in Tampa. And with research showing growth in the city, it made sense to Lepley to open his first restaurant here.

The cuisine is Southern comfort food with a Caribbean flair, like spicy jerk lamb chops over mashed potatoes and asparagus and blackened salmon Rasta Pasta. The restaurant has a full liquor bar.

Lepley said he and his partners worked closely with the chef, who hails from the Bahamas. Lepley’s father’s side of the family is Jamaican, and other staff and owners are also from the Caribbean.

Lepley plays a chef on “Harlem” — which isn’t the reason he decided to open a restaurant— and he did enjoy the experience of being in the back of the kitchen, he said.

It came mostly from his passion for entertaining people at home with game nights full of food, drinks and music.

“My love of food and giving people love through food and an experience is really what led me to opening my first business,” he said.

Lepley had time to focus on the restaurant while the writers and actors strikes delayed production of the shows he’s on.

The restaurant space features indoor and outdoor seating and a rooftop bar. Painted a deep midnight blue, the exterior will feature a mural of a gold flower by local artist team Pep Rally. Inside, the space is bright with a marble-looking bar and more gold accents.

While the soft opening happens at the end of the month, Lepley said the grand opening will happen closer to December. He said the team is looking for a charitable organization to partner with, to focus on causes like homelessness and foster care.

Lepley envisions hosting events at the restaurant, like watch parties for the shows he is on. He wants to draw a crowd of tastemakers and influencers, as well as fellow actors and celebrities.

“I think it’s good for the city because if you’re not from here, you don’t realize how much potential and how much Tampa really has,” he said “So bringing some of these stars here is going to let them understand that hey, we got something special here in Tampa, too.”

Lepley’s Kitchen and Lounge is located at 6310 N. Florida Ave., Tampa. The soft opening happens from 4-11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, and Sunday, Oct. 29.

Why the Tampa Bay Lightning’s glory days are ending

2016 A.D.: Fall of the Chicago Blackhawks empire begins.Before revelations of dark dealings behind the scenes came to pass years later, they were the decade’s model franchise, winning Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013 and 2015. As their future Hall of Fame stars got more expensive, they had to throw more and more veteran bodies overboard, relying on cheap depth. They decimated their draft capital in trades and went consecutive drafts without making a first-round pick in 2015 and 2016. A seven-game, first-round loss to the St. Louis Blu...

2016 A.D.: Fall of the Chicago Blackhawks empire begins.

Before revelations of dark dealings behind the scenes came to pass years later, they were the decade’s model franchise, winning Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013 and 2015. As their future Hall of Fame stars got more expensive, they had to throw more and more veteran bodies overboard, relying on cheap depth. They decimated their draft capital in trades and went consecutive drafts without making a first-round pick in 2015 and 2016. A seven-game, first-round loss to the St. Louis Blues in 2016 gave way to a sweep first-round loss to the Nashville Predators in 2017. The Hawks’ lone trip to the Stanley Cup playoffs since was gifted in 2020 when they competed in the COVID bubble tournament with the league’s 23rd-best record and won a series. No one from the Stanley Cup years remains on the roster, which is starting over with 2023 No. 1 overall pick Connor Bedard.

2018 A.D.: Fall of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ empire begins.

After climbing back atop the mountain with consecutive championships in 2016 and 2017, giving them three in the Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin era, the Penguins became increasingly top heavy. With GM Jim Rutherford desperately trying to prop the Stanley Cup window open, Pittsburgh made just one first-round pick from 2015 to 2021. They bowed out to the Washington Capitals in Round 2 of the playoffs. The next year: swept by the New York Islanders in Round 1. After suffering four consecutive opening-round defeats, their playoff streak halted at 16 years when they missed out by a single point in 2022-23.

The Blackhawks’ formula worked perfectly until the top-heavy structure imploded, and it predicted the Penguins’ gradual demise a few years later.

Which brings us to 2023 A.D. and another team that may or may not be following the same path.

Like the Pens and Hawks, this franchise founded its core on multiple homegrown Hall of Fame talents, taken with early first-round draft picks following lean years.

Like the Pens and Blackhawks, this team won multiple championships in a short timeframe and earned mini-dynasty status.

Like the Pens and Blackhawks, this team watched the salary-cap ground beneath it shrink year after year and was forced to throw away crucial contributors, relying on an elite development pipeline to turn seemingly marginal prospects into viable NHLers and replenish its depth.

Like the Pens and Blackhawks, this team eventually decided that first-round draft picks stopped mattering. It has used one in its past four drafts.

And after playing 12 playoff series between 2019-20 and 2021-22, winning 11 of them, the Tampa Bay Lightning lost in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in four years last spring. They did so icing the NHL’s second-oldest roster at the time. It felt like a potential turning point for the salary-cap era’s latest empire.

The off-season brought minor shuffling of depth from GM Julien BriseBois and little opportunity for major improvements as the extensions for core members Anthony Cirelli, Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak kicked in for 2023-24. Alex Killorn, Patrick Maroon and Ross Colton were the latest players from the Lightning’s championship teams to be sent packing, joining a growing list including Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow, Yanni Gourde, Tyler Johnson, Ryan McDonagh and Ondrej Palat.

The Bolts, then, were pretty clearly walking the same trail as the Hawks and Penguins. There’s no shame in it: in the case of all three franchises, it resulted in multiple championships. But as we did with Chicago and Pittsburgh, we may be witnessing the beginning of the end in Tampa.

They entered the 2023-24 campaign as only the 11th-oldest team in the NHL, but that was the result of younger depth swapping in low in the lineup rather than making any significant changes to their core. Center Steven Stamkos, right winger Nikita Kucherov and defenseman Victor Hedman were on the wrong side of 30. The “cheap depth” plan works well when your top players are superstars, and Tampa’s core, which also includes center Brayden Point, Sergachev and Andrei Vasilevskiy, remains great, but it’s reaching the juncture at which the ceiling starts to lower ever so slightly. The Pens’ last scoring champion and Hart Trophy winner came in 2013-14. The Hawks’ came in 2015-16. Their superstars, from Crosby to Malkin to Kane to Toews, continued playing at high levels but just not quite “best in the league” levels anymore, and the dwindling depth behind them in the lineup eventually couldn’t make up the difference. Just two years ago, the Bolts boasted seven 20-goal scorers; this year’s roster opened the year with five players who had registered a 20-goal campaign in the last five years.

Then came the Vasilevskiy dagger, a microdiscectomy, announced just before the start of the season, expected to shelf him for at least two months. Four games into their 2023-24 season, the Lightning, have a 2-2-1 record. They have been territorially outplayed, allowing the sixth most shots against per 60 and eighth-most expected goals against per 60 at 5-on-5. After BriseBois gambled with a shaky goaltending depth chart behind Vasilevskiy, Jonas Johansson and Matt Tomkins have combined for an .893 save percentage.

Can we expect the Lightning to pull themselves out of this? Sure, to a degree. They have one of the league’s best, most adaptive coaches in Jon Cooper. They’re still loaded with world-class players at every position. But they might be entering the same purgatory Chicago and Pittsburgh did for several seasons after their peaks: old team, good enough to make the playoffs, no longer deep enough to win multiple rounds, not replenishing with any top-end prospects at the draft.

It will be virtually impossible for Tampa to truly struggle in the seasons to come. Stamkos is a UFA this summer, but they have Kucherov locked up through 2026-2027; Point through 2029-30; Cirelli through 2030-31; Brandon Hagel through 2031-32; Nick Paul through 2028-29; Serchachev and Cernak through 2030-31; Hedman through 2024-25; and Vasilevsky through 2027-28. As those core players age out of their primes in the coming years, though, the Bolts won’t have the cap space or draft capital to support them with high-quality depth. The salary cap projects to rise to as much as $88 million next season, but Tampa has already committed more than $77 in cap space before factoring in a probable Stamkos extension. Thanks to picks traded away in the moves for Hagel in 2022 and Tanner Jeannot in 2023, the Lightning don’t pick in the first round again until 2026.

So don’t be surprised if they slide back in the Atlantic Division pack and become more of a gatekeeper playoff team in the forseeable future, giving upstart higher seeds spirited fights but no longer possessing the steam and talent to make deep runs. The Tampa empire as we know it is starting to decline, but bottoming out won’t happen for years.

This article first appeared on Daily Faceoff and was syndicated with permission.

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Nikita Kucherov scores twice, Lightning beat Canucks 4-3 to end 3-game winless streak

TAMPA, Fla. -- — Nikita Kucherov scored twice and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 on Thursday night to end a three-game winless streak....

TAMPA, Fla. -- — Nikita Kucherov scored twice and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 on Thursday night to end a three-game winless streak.

Nicholas Paul and Michael Eyssimont also scored, and Jonas Johansson made 26 saves. Steven Stamkos had an assist after missing the previous two games because of an undisclosed lower-body injury.

Thatcher Demko stopped 31 shots for Vancouver, and Brock Boeser, Tyler Myers and J.T. Miller scored. Demko had 40 saves Tuesday night in a 2-0 loss at Philadelphia.

Kucherov put Tampa Bay up 4-2 at 4:42 of the third on the Lightning's second power-play goal. Miller cut it to 4-3 with 1:49 remaining.

“Kuch took over,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.

The Lightning went ahead 3-2 on Eyssimont's goal with 4:17 left in the second, and Kucherov scored from the top of the right circle 1:09 later.

‘"I feel like it was like the last six, seven minutes (of the second) their big guys started wheeling around," Miller said. “Once they get going, they’re hard to stop.”

Kucherov and Stamkos each finished with seven shots. Kucherov hit the post early in the third.

“Work ethic,” Paul said. “When we start taking the game over, what was going well? We're moving pucks. We're hustling. We were first on the forecheck. Winning our battles in front. That's the kind of hockey we want to play.”

Boeser scored 14 seconds into the second before Myers made it 2-1 48 seconds later. Myers had his first goal of the season to match his total from both 2021-22 (82 games) and 2022-23 (78 games). He has 89 goals in 922 career games.

Boeser — who had four goals in a season-opening victory over Edmonton — is the first Vancouver player with five goals in his first four games of the season since Alexander Mogilny in 1995-96.

Elias Pettersson had two assists to give him seven overall. Only Andre Boudrias, with eight in 1974-75, has more helpers though his first four games of his season in Vancouver history.

Vancouver's Filip Hronek had an assist and seven shots,

Paul scored his third power-play goal of the season at 11:10 of the first after a turnover by Myers. Demko made a pair of strong saves on Stamkos before Paul put home a loose puck.

“I was trying to clear it,” Myers said. “I think I had more time than I thought. I couldn't get it in the air, under it. Looking back I wish I would have held on to it for a second, I think I could have.”

Stamkos and teammate Brayden Point finished at minus-2. Vancouver's Quinn Hughes was a plus-2.


Lightning: G Andrei Vasilevskiy (back surgery) remains on target to be back in late November or early December.


Canucks: At Florida on Saturday night.

Lightning: Host Toronto on Saturday night.



SPCA Tampa Bay partnership with puppy store, broker criticized by animal advocates: ‘This is a terrible idea'

LARGO, Fla. - A partnership between the SPCA of Tampa Bay, a breeder broker and retail shop is getting backlash from animal advocates and animal rescue groups across the country.Earlier this month, in a now-deleted video posted to social media, SPCA Tampa Bay CEO Martha Boden announced its new "For All Dogs" pilot program, involving an unusual partnership between two Sunshine Puppies retail shops, and Missouri-based breeding broker, Pinnacle Pet."There are two pieces to it," Boden explained....

LARGO, Fla. - A partnership between the SPCA of Tampa Bay, a breeder broker and retail shop is getting backlash from animal advocates and animal rescue groups across the country.

Earlier this month, in a now-deleted video posted to social media, SPCA Tampa Bay CEO Martha Boden announced its new "For All Dogs" pilot program, involving an unusual partnership between two Sunshine Puppies retail shops, and Missouri-based breeding broker, Pinnacle Pet.

"There are two pieces to it," Boden explained. "One piece is that we're providing veterinary care for the puppies in the two stores here in Pinellas County that are run as Sunshine Puppies."

The other part involves transferring retired purebred breeding dogs from other states to its Largo shelter through Pinnacle Pet, which will then be adopted out.

"Those adult dogs are going to spend their entire lives breeding when they're four or five or six years old, they're ready to move on to the next phase of their lives," Boden shared.

Pinnacle Pet CEO Chris Fleming told FOX 13 he met Boden at a dog acquisition summit in Chicago in June 2022, and while sitting at a table together, mentioned that he was in Pinellas County to bring a lot to bring pups to Sunshine Puppies. The two began talking about how she could get more involved in the lives of the dogs he brings into town.

He said the program will not financially benefit him or SPCA Tampa Bay.

READ: More than 30 animals rescued from Hillsborough County mobile home: Officials

"There is no skin in the game for Martha," Chris stated. "There's no money changing hands. You know, she's not purchasing anything. Nobody's selling her anything. It's dogs that are being given to the adoption program or who were transferred to her."

Boden said her team spent the last year visiting the breeding facilities Pinnacle works with and that the shelter accepts only about one or two purebreds every other week.

Since testing the program from May to the present, she said 22 dogs have been adopted out, often within the first 48 hours.

"It's a pilot, so we're not really looking for huge numbers. What we're really looking for is what we can learn from that program. So once a week, because Pinnacle is bringing dogs to Sunshine Puppies, we have the opportunity to put a retired breeding dog on that same transport and bring that animal here," Boden said.

READ: South Tampa cats left inheritance to go up for adoption after care concerns following owner’s death

However, the pilot program has outraged many animal welfare advocates.

In the last few weeks, local and national rescues have released statements criticizing and denouncing the partnership, stressing that it condones doing business with high-volume puppy mills.

"The fact is the majority of these USDA licensed commercial dog breeding kennels are nothing more than puppy mills, said John Goodwin, senior director of the Humane Society of the United States' 'Stop Puppy Mills Campaign.'

Upon learning of the partnership, Goodwin's team immediately began compiling documents showing unsanitary and harsh conditions at some of the breeding facilities where Pinnacle Pet and Sunshine Puppies acquires its dogs.

"We can look at all of the inspection reports and tell you that they are almost all show that there are places where dogs are not getting the veterinary care they deserve or there are sanitary problems," Goodwin added. "A puppy mill can keep a dog in a cage that is only six inches longer than her body. For her entire life, she might never set foot on a blade of grass. She almost certainly will be bred every cycle, and all of that is perfectly legal under the USDA regulations. So, when you see these inspector poor showing violations, these are people who couldn't even meet those standards, those bare minimum survival standards."

READ: Hound goes to forever home after being Tampa Humane Society's longest resident

Organizations like the Companion Animal Protection Society have been investigating Sunshine Puppies & Pinnacle Pet for years and have a whole case study plus a video of overcrowded breeding facilities.

Meanwhile, Bay Area shelter leaders, like Humane Society Tampa Bay's CEO Sherry Silk, also stressed that there are more than enough strays and abandoned animals that need a loving home in this community. Constant intakes have caused an overcrowding crisis for years.

File: Puppy

"Of all times, all times to start a program like doesn't make any sense because shelters are just so full and that can result in, for some shelters, euthanasia of too many pets," Silk explained.

Boden argued that no animal has been turned away because of this pilot program. She says her team will evaluate its volume on a week-to-week basis. She said for the last few weeks, the pilot program has been paused, so they can take transfers strays from areas in Florida impacted by Hurricane Idalia.

Petitions with thousands of signatures are calling for Martha to step down from her role. She's also been asked to resign from several boards she sits on, including the Florida Association of Animal Welfare Organizations, in which Sherry Silk holds the position of president.

READ: Dog, 8 puppies found in 'absolutely deplorable' conditions at Riverview construction site

"This is a terrible idea, in my opinion, and it sets back what animal welfare is trying to do," Silk stated. "None of us can go along with what's happening. So, we did ask for her to resign. And she did resign from our organization," Silk said.

When asked about her resignation, Boden said she'd been considering retiring from the board for months, and said the decision to resign was due to "other reasons."

Silk and many rescue groups who've worked with her, say Boden was once a pillar of advocacy for shutting down puppy mills and stores and called the program a betrayal. Silk says she believes they're going to lose donors, and support from the community if the program is not stopped.

Last year, Pinellas County commissioners officially voted to ban new retail pet stores from opening, but six existing stores were grandfathered in, including Sunshine Puppies.

Sunshine Puppies puppy owner Dan Cohn said he's used to people trying to shut him down.

READ: How to pick the right dog

"The animal welfare organizations, the community, they've done a lot," he said. These are they're very good people. These are not bad people. They have incredible intentions, and they want to do the right thing and they want to close down puppy mills, and so do I. But their intentions have been misdirected to a certain degree."

File: Dog in cage.

Despite the controversy, Boden and her two new partners are standing their ground in trying to work together.

SPCA Tampa Bay is now encouraging the public to share their input on the pilot program through an online survey it will use to decide what comes next for the program.

Boden said the feedback overall on social media so far has not been constructive, adding that her team has received threatening phone calls and emails.

Climate change will be a fiscal disaster for many Tampa Bay beach towns | Column

This municipal fiscal impact assessment of sea-level rise in Florida should be a wake-up call for Pinellas beach towns.CloseWe hope you enjoyed your free article.Get unlimited digital access for $11.75 99¢.Enjoy the many benefits of a Tampa Bay Times digital subscription.tampabay.come-Newspapere-NewsletterAppSupport local journalism and pursue the truth. ...

This municipal fiscal impact assessment of sea-level rise in Florida should be a wake-up call for Pinellas beach towns.


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Climate change is affecting communities nationwide, but Florida often seems like ground zero. In September 2022, Hurricane Ian devastated southwest Florida, killing at least 156 people and causing an estimated $113 billion in damages. Then in late August this year, Idalia hit the Big Bend region as a Category 3 hurricane, with record storm surge reaching all the way south to Tampa Bay.

Communities can adapt to some of these effects, or at least buy time, by taking steps such as upgrading stormwater systems and raising roads and sidewalks. But climate disasters and sea-level rise also harm local governments financially by increasing costs and undercutting their property tax bases. Local reliance on property taxes also can discourage cities from steering development out of flood zones, which is essential for reducing long-term risks.

In a newly published study and a supporting online StoryMap, we present the first-ever municipal fiscal impact assessment of sea-level rise in Florida and combine it with a statewide survey of coastal planners and managers. We wanted to know how sea-level rise would affect municipal tax revenues and whether coastal planners and managers are accounting for these fiscal impacts.

Our study finds that a sea-level rise of 6.6 feet would affect more than half of Florida’s 410 municipalities. Almost 30% of all local revenues currently generated by these 211 municipalities come from buildings in areas that will become chronically flooded, potentially by the end of the century. Yet, planners and managers remain largely unaware how much climate change will affect local fiscal health. Some communities with the most at risk are doing the least to prepare. (The sea-level rise calculation is based on the intermediate-high scenario for carbon emissions, which Florida uses to assess the rising sea’s impacts to its projects.)

Property tax and climate change: A Catch-22

Property taxes are critically important for municipal governments. Nationwide, they provide 30% of local revenues. They are one of the few funding sources that local governments control, and climate change directly threatens them.

As climate change warms ocean waters, it fuels hurricanes and increases their reach and intensity. Climate change also is raising sea levels, which increases coastal flooding during both storms and high tides, often referred to as sunny-day flooding. Unlike storms, sea-level rise doesn’t recede, so it threatens to permanently inundate coastal lands over time.

Property tax revenues may decline as insurance companies and property markets downgrade property values to reflect climate impacts, such as increasing flood risks and wildfires. Already, a growing number of insurance companies have decided to stop covering some regions and types of weather events, raise premiums and deductibles and drop existing policies as payouts rise in the wake of natural disasters. Growing costs of insuring or repairing homes may further hurt property values and increase home abandonment.

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Climate change also makes it more expensive to provide municipal services like water, sewage and road maintenance. For example, high heat buckles roads, rising water tables wash out their substructure, and heavier rains stress stormwater systems. If cities don’t adapt, increasing damage from climate-driven disasters and sea-level rise will create a vicious fiscal cycle, eroding local tax bases and driving up services costs — which in turn leaves less money for adaptation.

However, if cities reduce development in vulnerable areas, their property taxes and other revenues will take a hit. And if they build more seawalls and homes fortified to withstand hurricanes and storms, they will induce more people to live in harm’s way. In Florida, we found that these theoretical dynamics are already occurring.

Florida’s local revenues at risk

Our analysis shows that sea-level rise could flood properties that have a combined assessed value of $619 billion and currently generate $2.36 billion in annual property taxes. Five million Floridians live in towns where at least 10% of local revenues comes from properties at risk of chronic and permanent flooding. For 64 municipalities — including nearly all Pinellas beach communities — half of their revenues come from these risk zones.

Actual fiscal effects would likely be worse after accounting for other lost revenues, rising expenditures and the impacts of multiple climate hazards, such as hotter weather and more intense hurricanes.

These impacts are not evenly distributed. Municipalities with the greatest fiscal risks are geographically and demographically smaller, denser, wealthier and whiter. Lower-risk municipalities tend to be more populous, more diverse, lower-income and have larger land areas.

For instance, the 6,500 residents of the city of Treasure Island are 95% white and have a median household income of $75,000. The town occupies 3 square miles of land on a barrier island. In our model, its potential lost revenues due to sea-level rise equal its entire municipal revenue stream.

In contrast, St. Petersburg has a population of 261,000 residents that are 69% white and have a median household income of $53,800. It covers 72 square miles, with only 12% of its property tax revenues at risk from flooding.

Heads in the sand

We see our findings as a wake-up call for state and local governments. Without urgent action to adapt to climate change, dozens of municipalities could end up fiscally underwater.

Instead, many Florida cities are pursuing continued growth through infrastructure expansion. Even after devastating events like Hurricane Ian, administrative boundaries, service obligations and budgetary responsibilities make it hard for municipal leaders to make room for water or retreat onto higher ground.

Treasure Island, for instance, is allocating property taxes to upgrade the town’s causeway bridge. This protects against modest climate impacts in the short term but will eventually be overwhelmed by bigger storm surges, rising water tables and accelerating sea-level rise.

These dynamics can worsen displacement and gentrification. In Miami, developers are already buying and consolidating properties in longtime Black and lower-income neighborhoods like Little Haiti, Overtown and Liberty City that are slightly more elevated than areas along the shore.

If this pattern continues, we expect that inland and upland areas of cities like St. Petersburg, Tampa and Miami will attract more resilient, high-end development, while displaced low-income and minority residents are forced to move either out of the region or to coastal zones with declining resources.

Charting a different future

We don’t see this outcome as inevitable, in Florida or elsewhere. There are ways for municipalities to manage and govern land that promote fiscally sound, equitable and sustainable ways of adapting to climate change. The key is recognizing and addressing the property tax Catch-22.

As a first step, governments could assess how climate change will affect their fiscal health. Second, state governments could enact legislation that expands local revenue sources, such as sales or consumption taxes, vacancy taxes, stormwater impact fees and resilience bonds or fees.

Regional sharing of land and taxes is another way for small, cash-strapped communities to reduce development in vulnerable places while maintaining services for their residents. For example, New Hampshire passed a bill in 2019 to allow coastal municipalities to merge in response to sea-level rise.

Finally, state governments could pass legislation to help low-income neighborhoods gain more control over land and housing. Tested tools include limited equity cooperatives, where residents buy an affordable share in a development and later resell at below-market prices to maintain affordability; community land trusts, where a nonprofit buys and holds land title to keep land costs down; and resident-owned mobile home parks, where residents jointly buy the land. All of these strategies help communities keep housing affordable and avoid displacement.

Shifting away from a business-as-usual development model won’t be easy. But our study shows that Florida, with its flat topography and thousands of miles of coastline, faces cascading fiscal impacts if it continues down its current path.

Linda Shi is assistant professor of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University. Tisha Joseph Holmes is associate professor of Urban and Regional Planning at Florida State University. William Butler is associate professor of Urban and Regional Planning at FSU. This article from The Conversation is republished under a Creative Commons license. Read the original piece here.

© 2023 The Conversation


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