Make us your home page

Prince Hall Shriners to bring 3,000 people to Tampa for national convention

Les Miller, a Hills?bo?r?ough com?missioner, belongs to a Tampa chapter of the Shriners.

Les Miller, a Hills?bo?r?ough com?missioner, belongs to a Tampa chapter of the Shriners.

Starting today, there will be scores of men wearing box-shaped fezzes milling about downtown Tampa.

Members of the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles Mystic Shrine — also known as Prince Hall Shriners — are in town for the group's 123rd Imperial Council Session. It is also the 105th meeting of the Shriner's women's auxiliary group, the Imperial Court.

The group brought an estimated 25,000 attendees during its last visit to Tampa in 2014 and the Shriners believe that number may climb as high as 30,000 on its return to Tampa this week.

Founded in Chicago, the organization bears the name of Prince Hall, a black abolitionist and Freemason.

Boasting more than 250 ''temples'' or chapters and 200 courts throughout the world, the 123-year-old fraternal organization's presence in the area will be significant, members say.

"We're talking about a major, major conference," said Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller, who is a member of Hiram Temple No. 23, Tampa's chapter of the Prince Hall Shriners. "It's a huge economic impact."

Thanks to the Shriners and other large-scale gatherings — including Metrocon, Comic Con, the Florida Bar Examiners, the National Baptist Convention's Congress of Christian Education — that have visited the city this summer, Tampa is enjoying a bump in bed-tax dollars, according to Visit Tampa Bay, the region's tourism engine.

The numbers are significant: To date, Tampa has hosted six citywide conventions compared to four for 2015. The increase in meetings also means a jump in the number of hotel stays (63,000, compared with 24,000) and the number of attendees (72,000, compared with 17,700).

The economic impact doubled from $11 million to $22 million.

An aggressive marketing and sales strategy, and partnerships with hotels and city and county entities have led to a "great summer," said Santiago Corrada, Visit Tampa Bay president and CEO.

There's no sign of a slowdown. Bed-tax collections have increased 35 percent over the past three years, which is "pretty remarkable growth," he said.

The key is getting the attention of large groups like the Shriners and selling them on Tampa, Corrada said. "We don't know what the future holds, so if we can lock them in for future conventions, that's great," he said.

The Shriners' presence in Tampa this week marks the group's third visit in five years — a sign that the city is a good fit for the group, said Imperial Potentate Rochelle Julian, the organization's leader.

Contact Kenya Woodard at

>>Fast facts

Busy schedule

The Prince Hall Shriners will stage a host of activities in Tampa during their national convention: the seventh annual Prince Hall Shriners National Diabetes Initiative Walk/Run, 9 a.m. Saturday, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park; the Judicial Youth Forum, 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Marriott Waterside Hotel; and the Annual Street Parade, 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Ybor City.

Prince Hall Shriners to bring 3,000 people to Tampa for national convention 08/11/16 [Last modified: Monday, August 15, 2016 5:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming


    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  2. A sports rout on Wall Street


    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.

  3. Grocery chain Aldi hosting hiring event in Brandon Aug. 24


    BRANDON — German grocery chain Aldi is holding a hiring event for its Brandon store Aug. 24. It is looking to fill store associate, shift manager and manager trainee positions.

  4. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik backs film company pursuing global blockbusters


    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik's latest investment might be coming to a theater near you.

    Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner, invested in a new movie company looking to appeal to a global audience. | [Times file photo]
  5. Trigaux: Look to new Inc. 5000 rankings for Tampa Bay's future heavyweights


    There's a whole lotta fast-growing private companies here in Tampa Bay. Odds are good you have not heard of most of them.


    Kyle Taylor, CEO and founder of The Penny Hoarder, fills a glass for his employees this past Wednesday as the young St. Petersburg personal advice business celebrates its landing at No. 25 on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing private companies in the country. Taylor, still in his 20s, wins kudos from executive editor Alexis Grant for keeping the firm's culture innovative. The business ranked No. 32 last year. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]