A multipurpose facility for business meetings and indoor amateur sports would bring a significant number of visitors to Tampa's West Shore district, says a travel and tourism consultant hired to study the concept.
"With the right location, the right marketing and marketing team, (it) could attract events,'' said Robert Canton, a director for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Tampa, in a presentation Thursday to Hillsborough County's Tourist Development Council.
West Shore has one of the state's largest business districts. The area also is home to more than 50 hotels with some 8,000 rooms. Worried the district is overbuilt, West Shore hotel operators would like to see a new meeting facility to attract overnight visitors.
The best option, Canton said, is a flexible building that could host youth volleyball tournaments, trade shows and business conferences alike. The centerpiece would be a 50,000-square-foot exhibit hall with bleacher seating for up to 5,000 spectators and 30-foot ceilings, he said.
The facility also would need an adjacent grand ballroom separated from the hall by a moveable wall and additional space for an executive boardroom, lecture hall and smaller ballroom.
Canton showed plans for a similar center in Irvine, Texas, with a price tag of $133 million. His next step will be to locate and rank about a dozen possible sites, each 12 aces or larger. Then come the really difficult questions.
How much revenue could the facility generate? How much would it cost and how would it be financed? Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio endorsed the concept with one condition: The money has to come from a private source.
Steve Huettel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3384.