Make us your home page
Instagram

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 jleone@sptimes.com.

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

Loading...
  1. The Iron Yard coding academy to close in St. Petersburg

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Iron Yard, a code-writing academy with a location in downtown St. Petersburg, will close for good this summer.

    Instructors (from left) Mark Dewey, Jason Perry, and Gavin Stark greet the audience at The Iron Yard, 260 1st Ave. S, in St. Petersburg during "Demo Day" Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, at The Iron Yard, which is an immersive code school that is part of a trend of trying to address the shortage of programmers.  The academy is closing this summer.  [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  2. Florida's unemployment rate drops for fourth straight month

    Markets

    How low can Florida's unemployment go? Pretty low, according to the state's latest unemployment numbers. The Sunshine State's unemployment rate dropped to 4.1 percent for June, down from 4.3 percent in May, state officials said Friday morning.

    Florida's unemployment level dropped to 4.1 percent in June from 4.3 percent in May. |  [Times file photo]
  3. Is sinkhole damage sinking Tampa Bay property values?

    Real Estate

    On a scale of desirability, the house for sale on Whittner Drive in Land O' Lakes would rank fairly low. It's a short sale; it sits on an unstabilized sinkhole and it's within a few miles of two houses that collapsed into a gargantuan hole July 16.

    A gated community in Hernando's Spring Hill area, Pristine Place has long been susceptible to sinkholes with nearly a third of its houses with documented sinkhole damage by 2012. Today, however, many houses with repaired sinkhole damage are selling for more than houses without any issues. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times file photo]
  4. The real estate pros in charge of Tampa's $3 billion makeover are younger than you think

    Working Life

    TAMPA — Brooke May, a 36-year-old senior construction project manager, knew she wanted to work for Strategic Property Partners the minute she met some team members involved with the group's massive downtown Tampa makeover.

    Matt Davis, Vice President of Development posed for a portrait in the Strategic Property Partners office in Channelside on July 12, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  5. St. Pete Beach may loosen beach drinking rules for hotel guests

    Local Government

    ST. PETE BEACH — Drinking a beer, a cocktail or a glass of wine may soon be legal on this city's beaches, but only for hotel guests in and around their hotel's beachfront cabanas.

    Registered hotel guests would be able to drink alcoholic beverages at their cabanas on the beach under a new rule the St. Pete Beach City Commission is considering.