Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

'Exploding Chicken' sculpture to get new home in Tampa

The sculpture will be moved to a spot on Channelside Drive.

MELISSA LYTTLE | Times (2005)

The sculpture will be moved to a spot on Channelside Drive.

TAMPA — The iconic black and yellow sculpture at Kennedy Boulevard and Ashley Drive, known informally as the "Exploding Chicken," is about to fly its coop.

The sculpture is set to be moved from in front of Rivergate Tower to a roundabout north of the Florida Aquarium, creating a striking visual for people arriving in the Channel District from Ybor City or walking from the aquarium parking lot.

"I knew that space was there and it's highly visible and I suggested it because I thought it would be a great place for it," said Bob McDonaugh, the city's manager for economic development downtown and in the Channel District.

The search for a new home for the untitled sculpture, which has occupied the corner for about two decades, began five years ago.

That's when America's Capital Partners bought the building, art included, for $35.5 million.

Six months after the purchase, company officials offered to donate the sculpture by artist George Sugarman to the city, saying it was too big for the space.

City officials began a search for a new roost, considering the Riverwalk and Tampa International Airport.

McDonaugh suggested the chosen spot more than a year ago.

He estimates the cost to move the piece at $150,000, but much of the work is being donated.

"It's just about an all-volunteer effort," McDonaugh said.

Volunteers include steelworker union apprentices; Gulf Marine Repair, which will refurbish the sculpture; and Florida Structural Steel, which will move it.

The exact date of the relocation hinges on getting permission from the Florida Department of Transportation to close Kennedy Boulevard and nearby sidewalks to accommodate a crane.

Robert Willis, project coordinator for Florida Structural Steel, said the sculpture will be moved in pieces.

"It's too big to ship as is," he said.

Willis declined to comment on the sculpture's aesthetics, but did offer this: "I wish Mr. Sugarman would have named it. I don't like the name it's been given — 'The Exploding Chicken.' "

The moniker was popularized by Tampa Tribune columnist Steve Otto.

Henry Lewis, who has worked in the Channel District since 1968 and lived there for six years, welcomes the neighborhood's new arrival.

"It's a fabulous piece of art. It will add to the arts character of the Channel District, which is originally what we were," he said. "And we happen to have zero arts now. All the arts have been taken away."

Tom Wagner, a spokesman for the Florida Aquarium, said the sculpture adds a unique feature to the district.

"That space is pretty empty," he said. "It's nice to add a visual element as you're approaching Channelside from that direction."

Janet Zink can be reached at or (813) 226-3401.

'Exploding Chicken' sculpture to get new home in Tampa 02/11/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 11, 2010 11:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. NFL commissioner calls Trump remarks on national anthem 'divisive'


    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The commissioner of the National Football League says President Donald Trump's comments about players who kneel during the national anthem are "divisive" and show an "unfortunate …

    President Donald Trump walks off the stage after he speaks at campaign rally in support of Sen. Luther Strange, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. [Associated Press]
  2. Forecast: Tampa Bay's first fall weekend brings scattered showers


    It may officially be fall, but Tampa Bay won't have any cooler temperatures this weekend.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  3. Romano: The choice does not have to be poverty or gentrification

    Local Government

    The memories must be protected. The music and the lore, too.

    The owner of Sylvia's Queen of Soul Food is refusing to give the city information on the restaurant's sales as required by his contract to occupy the city-owned Manhattan Casino. The information is needed to calculate whether the nonprofit Urban Development Solutions, headed by Larry Newsome, owes the city more than the $3,000 monthly base rent.
  4. Tests show North Korea earthquake not caused by nuclear test


    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's weather agency said a magnitude 3.2 earthquake was detected in North Korea on Saturday close to where the country recently conducted a nuclear test, but it assessed the quake as natural.

    People watch a TV news program reporting North Korea's earthquake, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. South Korea's weather agency said an earthquake was detected in North Korea on Saturday around where the country recently conducted a nuclear test, but it assessed the quake as natural. The signs read " The weather agency said a magnitude 3.0 earthquake was detected in North Korea." [Associated Press]
  5. New earthquake, magnitude 6.1, shakes jittery Mexico


    MEXICO CITY — A strong new earthquake shook Mexico on Saturday, causing new alarm in a country reeling from two still-more-powerful quakes this month that have killed nearly 400 people.

    Locals play pool at a venue in Mexico City's La Condesa neighborhood, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, four days after the 7.1 earthquake. The upscale Mexico City neighborhood was one of the hardest hit, with more than a half-dozen collapsed buildings in the immediate vicinity. The few Condesa residents who ventured out Friday night said they were anxious for relief from an anguishing week. [Associated Press]