Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Pete Times Forum renovations worth considering, say majority of Hillsborough commissioners

TAMPA — A majority of Hillsborough County commissioners say they are willing to consider freeing up future tourist tax dollars to pay for renovations of the St. Pete Times Forum.

Their statements came in response to revelations that the new Tampa Bay Lightning ownership group is planning a significant makeover of the venue and wants to tap additional public dollars for reimbursement.

The five commissioners who could be reached for comment Thursday noted the importance of the Times Forum as a tourist and entertainment draw. As a publicly owned venue, it needs to be kept in good shape, they said.

And a common theme among them was noting that the hockey team, whose parent company leases and runs the building, is willing to front the money without making any demands.

"They want a mature conversation. I think that's great," Commissioner Mark Sharpe said.

County officials this week confirmed they've been briefed by team officials on plans for significant modifications. They include seat replacement, new heating and air-conditioning systems, a paint job and construction of an upper-level party deck to offer more food and drink vendors.

In all, the team anticipates spending $40 million for what was described as a mix of overdue maintenance and an effort to improve the fan experience.

Commissioners five years ago approved setting aside $35 million for renovations. The team's former owner agreed to do the work and then apply for reimbursements through 2021. So far, the team has gotten $11 million in reimbursements.

The St. Petersburg Times, which owns the venue's naming rights, reported Thursday that the ownership group, Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment, wants to expand the agreement. Under terms discussed so far, the team would be eligible for future annual reimbursements of $2.5 million through 2027, expanding the potential value of the rebate program to $48.5 million.

Five of the seven commissioners, who would have to approve the deal, said Thursday they're willing to entertain the idea. Some of them noted that tourist taxes, which are paid by hotel guests, seem to be an appropriate source. Commissioners Kevin Beckner and Les Miller could not be reached for comment.

Bob Morrison, executive director of the Hillsborough County Hotel and Motel Association, said his group supports the Lightning. Still, he said he wants to hear what effect a deal could have on funding to market the county as a visitor destination.

Commissioners said they have heard nothing to suggest that the deal is being proposed to enhance the venue before the 2012 Republican National Convention. Ken Jones, president of the convention host committee, said the party has done nothing to encourage renovations.

"At the time that we bid, the RNC site selection commission saw the Times Forum in its then condition and awarded the bid based on what they saw," he said.

Bill Varian can be reached at (813) 226-3387 or varian@sptimes.com.

St. Pete Times Forum renovations worth considering, say majority of Hillsborough commissioners 01/27/11 [Last modified: Thursday, January 27, 2011 11:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Half of Florida lawmakers fail or nearly fail review of support for public records

    State Roundup

    WEST PALM BEACH — Half of Florida's legislators failed or nearly failed in a review of their support for public records and meetings given by Florida newspapers and an open-government group after this year's legislative sessions.

    State Senator Bill Galvano, R- Bradenton (left) and Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran ranked on opposite sides of the spectrum in an analysis of support for open records. Galvano scored a B-minus and Corcoran scored a D-plus.
[Times file photo]
  2. Yale dean on leave over offensive Yelp reviews leaves post

    Bizarre News

    NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Yale University dean who was placed on leave over offensive reviews she posted on Yelp has left her position at the Ivy League institution, school officials said Tuesday.

  3. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  4. The people you meet along O.J. Howard Lane

    Bucs

    OJ Howard (far right) is seen in a photo from his adolescent years at Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church in Prattville, Ala., on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. Howard served as an usher in addition to attending regular services at this church.