TAMPA — The Beach Tampa opens Friday at Amalie Arena, and the free tickets to float on an ocean of 1.2 million white balls are already hard to come by on weekends.
The exhibit, created by New York design firm Snarkitecture, is set up in a space the size of the ice rink the Tampa Bay Lightning play in. It took nine tractor-trailer trucks full of the antimicrobial balls to fill the stark white "beach" setting, which will remain through Aug. 25.
Free timed tickets are available through the arena box office, thebeachtampa.com or Ticketmaster, but the most popular times are floating away fast.
When news first broke of the exhibit, the website was flooded with requests. More than 40,500 tickets have already been distributed, said Bill Wickett, vice president of communications for Amalie Arena. They estimate they can add more hours and tickets during the three-week run, Wickett said, but it's a learning experience so he recommends checking the website and the @thebeachtampa Twitter feed for updates.
In response to the demand, the arena will be open at 10 a.m. instead of noon this Monday and Tuesday, Wickett said
Few tickets are available weekends through Aug. 25, but you can still find times available on weekdays. In addition, the arena is holding back some tickets every day for walk-in traffic, though you may have to either wait or come back hours later, Wickett said.
The exhibit was the hit of the summer last year in Washington, D.C., when it was set up in the National Building Museum. Admission was $16 and waits were long. That's where Penny Vinik, wife of Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, fell in love with the concept and arranged for the Vinik Family Foundation charitable organization to bring the exhibit here.
When you're in the balls, hang on to your stuff. It is very easy to lose cell phones, shoes, cameras or anything loose. Once dropped, it's nearly impossible to dig a hole to the bottom of all those balls to retrieve lost items. Amalie is offering free lockers, so store your things before you dive in.
Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @SharonKWn.