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Vinny Testaverde can't sell his lakefront Odessa home, so it's now going to auction

The home of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarter back Vinny Testaverde is set for auction April 9. (Courtesy of Firelight Images)
Published Mar. 5

ODESSA — Vinny Testaverde would really, really like to sell his house.

After two years on the market with no takers, the nearly 13,000-square-foot home of the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback is headed to auction on April 9.

"Properties in this price point can sometimes be stubborn to move,'' agent Evan Pedone said of the house on Lake Keystone, now priced at $6 million. "The idea behind these auctions is that it creates a sense of interest and a sense of urgency. The idea is to get affluent buyers to the property and have them find the value in it and bid on it.''

ALSO READ: Ex-WWE star Chris Jericho buys Odessa estate for $3.255 million

Testaverde, a Heisman Trophy winner and the Bucs' No. 1 overall draft pick in 1987, bought the house for $4.5 million in 2007 during his last year as a player with the Carolina Panthers. He and wife Mitzi added custom touches, including a dance studio on the top floor for one of their daughters and a bridge leading to the roof where star-gazers could set up a telescope.

In 2013, the Testaverdes sued the homebuilder, alleging numerous structural and water intrusion problems. The couple, who settled with the builder two years later, redid the entire ground floor at an estimated cost of $1 million.

The house first went on the market in April 2017 for $5 million. The listing expired last year, and Pedone of Engel & Volkers Madeira Beach got the new listing. Among the lookers was WWE wrestling champ Chris Jericho, but he recently decided to buy another house on Lake Keystone for $3.25 million.

Earlier this month, Pedone referred the Testaverdes to American Heritage Realty, whose auction arm will handle the evening sale on site.

ALSO READ: Developer Ben Mallah buys former Phillies slugger Ryan Howard's Pinellas home for $16.5 million

"We'll be in tuxedos and have a harpist there,'' said American Heritage owner Michael Peters. "We're going to turn the headache of selling the home into an elegant event.''

Situated on more than five lakefront acres, the house has six bedrooms, seven full bathrooms, four half baths, two full kitchens and a 10-car garage. There is a theater that can comfortably seat up to 15, full size basketball and tennis courts, a golf-simulation room,a walk-in wine cellar with cigar humidor, a game room, a card room, a piano room and a gym "the size of an Anytime Fitness club,'' Pedone said.

The Testaverdes also own the lot next door, bought for $500,000, and are no longer part of the local homeowners association so the property "is basically its own compound,'' Pedone said. It is zoned equestrian and could potentially accommodate more than a dozen horses.

The couple and one daughter still live in the house, where they have hosted charity events over the years. But with the other daughter soon to be married and their son away at college (he's a quarterback for the University at Albany), they decided it's too big for them. They plan to remain in the Tampa Bay area.

It has yet to be decided whether there will be an open house before the auction but if there is one, it would be limited to those rich enough to buy the home. "Bear in mind, there's a lot of sports memorabilia in there,'' Pedone said. "We can't have just anyone going through the property.''

And who might that someone be who finally buys?

"This (house) really caters to more like an Elon Musk or a major CEO or a superstar like Shaquille O'Neal,'' Pedone said.

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at smartin@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.

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