Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg mayor's choice to manage Mahaffey Theater? Bill Edwards' Big 3 Entertainment

ST. PETERSBURG — It's one of the biggest decisions the City Council will make this year: picking a manager for the Mahaffey Theater, which has struggled to remain competitive with similarly-sized venues like Ruth Eckerd Hall and the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.

On the eve of the council picking one of three bidders — Ruth Eckerd Hall Inc., Big 3 Entertainment and the Mahaffey's current operators, SMG — Mayor Bill Foster weighed in.

Foster released a memo announcing that he favors Big 3 Entertainment, which is owned by Bill Edwards, a mortgage company executive who proposed managing the theater in 2004 before aborting his bid after unwanted press attention. He retracted his $10 million bid after it was revealed he was convicted on a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge in Greece. His conviction was later thrown out on appeal, and Edwards later donated $2 million for theater renovations.

Foster said Big 3's ability to reduce the city's $900,000 annual subsidy of the venue, to provide quality programing and to limit the nights the theater isn't used make it the better choice.

"Big 3 Entertainment has put together an impressive management staff that will leverage sister company resources to expand programming and simultaneously reduce risk at the theater, something critical in this economic environment," Foster wrote.

Until Wednesday's memo, Foster wasn't saying who he was going to recommend. Last week, he said he was waiting for assurances that the Florida Orchestra, which calls the Mahaffey home, will get the dates it needs.

City Council member Karl Nurse said that Foster's predecessor, Rick Baker, would have weighed in sooner.

"Baker would have told us three months ago who he would have favored and then tried to convince us to go in that direction," Nurse said.

Instead, Foster's staff wrote a four-page summary of the bids, which are all quite different, and made no recommendation. Council members said last week that although they are scheduled to vote today, they have so many questions that they might to delay the vote to April 21.

Today's meeting begins at 8:30 a.m., but the theater will be discussed at the end of the meeting.

Michael Van Sickler can be reached at (727) 893-8037 or

St. Petersburg mayor's choice to manage Mahaffey Theater? Bill Edwards' Big 3 Entertainment 04/06/11 [Last modified: Thursday, April 7, 2011 8:57am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs have chance to beat Vikings in their third stadium


    Here's a cool sign that the Bucs are getting up there as an NFL franchise: If Tampa Bay can win Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, it will mark the first time the Bucs have posted road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.

    TIMES ARCHIVES (2012) | Bucs RB Doug Martin runs during Tampa Bay's 36-17 win at the Vikings in 2012, in what was then called Mall of America Field. If Tampa Bay wins Sunday, it will mark the first time they have road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.
  2. Memorial for Snooty the manatee, postponed because of Irma, to be held Sunday


    A public memorial to celebrate the life of 69-year-old Snooty the manatee will be held at the South Florida Museum on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

    Snooty , the world's most celebrated manatee, begs for another slice of apple in his pool in the Parker Manatee Aquarium at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton in 2008. Snooty was 60 then. [Times 2008]
  3. Residents wade through a flooded road after the passing of Hurricane Maria, in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Friday, September 22, 2017. Because of the heavy rains brought by Maria, thousands of people were evacuated from Toa Baja after the municipal government opened the gates of the Rio La Plata Dam. [Associated Press]
  4. NFL commissioner, players' union angrily denounce Trump comments on national anthem


    SOMERSET, N.J. — The National Football League and its players' union on Saturday angrily denounced President Donald Trump for suggesting that owners fire players who kneel during the national …

    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]
  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]