With a menu full of Tex-Mex inspired dishes, Chili's has delightfully delicious food with great alcohol including their renowned margaritas.
Tampa's well-deserved reputation as a strip club mecca is no doubt helped by the out of this world landmark known as 2001 Odyssey. The adult strip club is recognizable by its spaceship exterior (in reality, an old model house from the kitschy past). Part of an area of strip clubs known as the Bermuda Triangle on Dale Mabry, the Odyssey features private rooms, champagne rooms and VIP rooms. Beyond that, we can only say this is the place that the NFL warns its players about whenever the Super Bowl is in town because of its lap dancing policy. Consider yourself on notice.
This field’s great claim to fame is the regular arrival of the New York Yankees to practice here during the cool spring months. Opened in 1996, the stadium formerly known as Legends Field, has played host to numerous shows and musicians (Rod Stewart, Natalie Merchant, Moody Blues, Sting), Florida State High School Championships, Preliminary Olympic Baseball and former president George W. Bush.
The stadium, located on 31 acres in the heart of Tampa directly across from Raymond James Stadium, has a seating capacity of 11,000, plus 12 luxury suites with a capacity of 20 guests each. It is identical in field dimensions to Yankee Stadium. The field is also home to the Hillsborough Community College Hawks. Additionally, the Tampa Yankees, founded in 1994, practice and play using this field. The team won the Florida State League Championship in 1994, 2001 and 2004.
A gift shop, pub, concessions stand and ATM are all readily available in the stadium.
When the Glazer family purchased the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1995 for $192 million, talk immediately turned to getting the team a new stadium to play in. The old Houlihan's Stadium, aka The Big Sombrero, was simply outdated, uncomfortable and lacked the luxury suites needed to bring in a big stream of revenue for the team.
After a contentious battle over how to pay for it, the new stadium finally opened on Sept. 20, 1998, ushering in a new era of Tampa Bay Buccaneers prosperity. (The Bucs won the game over Chicago with a huge comeback.)
In addition to being the home of the Bucs, the stadium also is home field for the University of South Florida Bulls, and it hosts the Outback Bowl every New Year's Day. Major touring acts like Kenny Chesney and U2 have played at RayJay, and it regularly hosts Monster Jam truck events.
The set-up: This is a walking tour of the sports complex, with stops along the way on the actual playing surface, in the locker room, in prime seats and in special places most fans would never get to go (a $250,000 luxury suite!).
The touchdown: The pirate ship in the end zone is definitely a highlight, with plenty of spots to pose for photos around it. The ship has plenty of great details, like the huge anchor that lies alongside it. Which makes the fun fact that the tour guide shares all the more interesting: The pirate ship wasn’t in the original design for the stadium. [Note: The ship is periodically closed for maintenance, so not every tour gets to board it.]
Inside the Red (Luxury) Zone: The RayJay tour included a visit to a luxury suite overlooking the 10-yard line. Feedback from suite owners led the Tampa Sports Authority, which runs the stadium, to create windows that can be taken off their tracks and stored, so that the fans inside the suite can feel closer to the game. The stadium has 195 of these suites that seat anywhere from 8 to 46 people apiece. And unlike traditional suites that have a wall separating them, these have a window, so that you get a feeling of an infinite cocktail party being held high above the game when they’re full of well-heeled fans.
A little low-key: Standing inside a small low-ceilinged locker room with the crimson and pewter colors, our group was asked: Whose locker room do you think this is? We all guessed visitors. Wrong! Since this is used just on game day, the Bucs players have better digs over at their practice facility, One Buc Place. This place is all business, with spare locker space, a communal shower (albeit with 9-foot-tall showerheads) and low-key lighting. The only difference in the visitors’ room? No ceiling tiles, like the Bucs have. And it gets even more spartan when the USF Bulls play there. The room has to accommodate another row of lockers down the center, making it likely one of the most crowded locker rooms on the planet. (Insider tip: Our guide told us the Bucs' locker room is consistently voted the best smelling in the NFL. Why? They rip up the carpet after each season and start anew.)
Clipboard stats: The club seating area at RayJay is noteworthy because of its giant video board made up of 25 52-inch flatscreen TVs. The people who get in here are suite guests and those who are sitting in those gray seats around the stadium. On the day we took the tour, we got lucky there was an event being held in one of the suites. Otherwise the air conditioning would have been shut off and it would have been 20 degrees warmer inside. It costs $8,000 just to turn the air on, and $150 an hour to run it.
Advance scouting report: When you take the RayJay tour, be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes because you end up walking about 3/4 of a mile. And unless you go in the cooler winter months, dress comfortably for the heat because much of the tour is spent outside any air conditioning. On the plus side, they gave each member of the tour group a Bucs bandana and coupons good for discounts on Bucs and Bulls merchandise.
Details: The tour is held at 2 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday at the stadium and lasts approximately an hour. Costs is $6 for adults (16 and older); $4 for children (6-15); free for children 5 and under; and $4 for seniors 65 and older. Cash only; there is an ATM right at the tour starting point. Call to make sure the tour is still scheduled: (813) 350-6545. Group tours are also available. Parking is free.
-- Anne Glover, Times Staff Writer
This large park in central Tampa has several large picnic shelters and tables, grills, a fitness trail and lots of open field for pickup football games, kite flying, setting up bounce houses and more. It also has Freedom Playground, a large handicapped accessible playground with a sand area and some unusual play equipment that you don't see at other playgrounds. There is also at least one other traditional jungle gym/swing set area.
Chiefly an entertainment venue, it also is a Tampa polling place and is available for events from weddings to business gatherings.
Its history is an interesting story.
The building, originally constructed for the West Tampa Chamber of Commerce, once housed the MacFarlane Optimist Club, the West Tampa Optimist Club and the West Tampa Business Alliance.
Then El Centro Espanol stepped in. The social club and mutual aid society had been formed in 1891 by Hispanic immigrants who had hopped from Havana to Florida to work in the cigar industry. The society bought it in 1991, abandoning former headquarters at Howard Avenue and Cherry Street.
The West Tampa Convention Center's chief mission was to arrange for the burials of El Centro Espanol's aging members. As the business arm of the former Ybor City mutual aid society, it continues to administer Centro Espanol's remaining assets: two cemeteries.
But the convention center is somewhat of a cultural crossroads, hosting events from Tampa’s many ethnic communities, such as a Puerto Rico Festival, a Brazilian festival and other assorted gatherings.