Make us your home page

County considers a smaller convention center in West Shore

WEST SHORE — The West Shore business district is sprinkled with millions of square feet of office space, two malls, an airport, a restaurant row to whet any appetite and more than 8,000 hotel rooms.

But you'll have to meander about 4 miles east on Kennedy Boulevard to downtown, where there are fewer than 5,000 rooms, to find the city's main conference spot, the Tampa Convention Center.

Now business and tourism officials want to see whether the West Shore area could support a conference center of its own, albeit a smaller one.

The Hillsborough County Tourist Development Council and Tampa Bay & Company, the county's convention and tourism bureau, have tapped Pricewaterhouse Coopers to conduct a feasibility study. Officials meet Wednesday to determine the scope of the $25,000 study and a timetable for the results.

The Westshore Alliance, a business membership group like a chamber of commerce, spearheaded the effort to get the study started.

Some believe that the convention center downtown is so large that it scares smaller groups from coming to Tampa. For instance, Ron Rotella, the alliance's executive director, said he had heard about a group of dentists who went to Orlando where convention space was more suitable to their needs.

"Intuitively we feel there is a need. But you need more than intuition. You need the financial analysis," Rotella said.

But Tampa already has a convention center. The 600,000-square-foot waterfront facility features a 200,000-square-foot exhibition hall, a 36,000-square-foot ballroom, 36 expandable rooms and 84,000 square feet of public space.

John Moors, the convention center's administrator, said he didn't know details regarding the study and didn't want to comment on it directly.

As for his facility, Moors said, business is good given the economic climate. He also said the convention center can accommodate any size group from 50 to 15,000 people. Rates range from $200 to several thousand.

"We have one convention center in town and it's this one," Moors said.

Jim Bartholomay, general manager of the Renaissance Tampa at International Plaza and a Tourist Development Council board member, said the proposed West Shore facility would not be meant as competition.

"The interest is not to steal business from downtown. It is to enhance each other and coexist," Bartholomay said.

Even with a sluggish economy, Bartholomay believes the timing to conduct the study is right.

"Once things start to improve, you are going to start to see everything fill up again," Bartholomay said. "West Shore has the ability, it is a dynamic location."

Steve Hayes, executive vice president of Tampa Bay & Company, said there are no expectations about what the study will conclude.

"A lot of people are assuming this is a full-blown study. This is really just the first phase to determine if the viability is there," Hayes said. "This is going to get us some answers to questions like, 'Is this even worth moving forward?' "

Jared Leone can be reached at (813) 269-5314 or

County considers a smaller convention center in West Shore 02/26/09 [Last modified: Thursday, February 26, 2009 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa is 15th-most popular city to move to with U-Haul


    TAMPA —Tampa is undoubtedly a destination point, at least according to U-Haul.

    Tampa is the No. 15 destination for people moving with U-Haul trucks. | Times file photo
  2. Florida's economy growing faster than other big states and far better than U.S. overall


    When it comes to economic growth, Florida's running alongside the leading states and well ahead of the United States as a whole.

  3. Westshore Marina District project takes shape with another acquisition

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — One of Tampa Bay's prime waterfront areas took another major step toward redevelopment Friday as WCI Communities bought 2.35 acres in Westshore Marina District.

    WCI Communities, Lennar's high-end subsidiary,has paid $2.5 million for 2.35 acres in the Westshore Marina District for 35 townhomes. WCI is under contract  to buy an additional 9.5 acres.
[BTI Partners]
  4. Posh Guy Harvey RV park to open in Tampa Bay with $250,000 cottages


    HOLIDAY — Love those Guy Harvey T-shirts with the soaring marlins? In the not too distant future, you might be able to kick back in your own Guy Harvey cottage in the first-ever Guy Harvey RV park.

    Renderings of the clubhouse and an RV cottage site of the planned Guy Harvey Outpost Club & Resort Tarpon Springs.
[Guy Harvey Outpost Collection]
  5. Port Tampa Bay secures $9 million grant to deepen Big Bend Channel


    Port Tampa Bay has secured a $9 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the widening and deepening of the Big Bend Channel in southern Hillsborough County.