‘Hinks’ Shimberg built Tampa suburbs and kept the Bucs in town. He died at 92.

The developer was also a theater producer and local philanthropist.
Hinks Shimberg, pictured in Shimberg Theater at Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, now known as the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.
Hinks Shimberg, pictured in Shimberg Theater at Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, now known as the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. [ Times (2007) ]
Published Nov. 18, 2021

Mandell Shimberg was known for many things: his development projects, philanthropy, theater productions and his love of Tampa Bay sports teams.

Everyone in town knew him as “Hinks,” a name a caretaker chose out of the phone book because they thought Mandell was too big of a name for a little boy. The name stuck.

Shimberg, 92, died Tuesday — 7 months and a day after his late wife. They were married 60 years.

He was born in Syracuse, N.Y., during the Great Depression in 1929. He moved around with his family like an Army kid, he said in an oral history project recorded for the University of South Florida’s 50th anniversary. After he graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1951, Shimberg was drafted by the U.S. Marine Corps and stationed in Washington D.C. during the Korean War. He later went to Columbia University to get a master’s degree in business.

Shimberg moved to Tampa in 1957, and would go on to build a legacy in the region.

“The entire family has been wonderful for Tampa and have participated in everything that happens in town,” former Tampa mayor Dick Greco said.

Shimberg founded LaMonte-Shimberg Corporations with his business partner Charles LaMonte and brother Jim Shimberg. They first considered Sarasota for opportunities to develop residential communities in Florida but were drawn to Tampa because of its growing business landscape.

Shimberg said in 2017 that development in Tampa’s suburbs, like the Brandon area, had ballooned. He reminisced on his work he did there in the 1950s, describing it as a place where he “could build a quality project and make it look very pretty because of the natural terrain and trees, at a price that was affordable.”

He was most proud of his work at Town ‘n Country Park, a residential community he built in northwest Hillsborough County that was once 1,500 acres of pasture and dairy farms.

“He was my mentor and my hero,” Scott Shimberg said, who took after his father and became a local homebuilder. ”He taught me it’s very important to listen. He took that into boardrooms and the leadership positions that he had throughout the community.”

He also had a passion for theater, his son said. Shimberg was a founder of the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, now known as the Straz Center of the Performing Arts, and served as chairman of the board and founding chairman of the theater’s foundation. He invested and produced seven Broadway shows, two of which received Tony Award nominations. Shimberg and his wife, Elaine, donated $1 million for the Shimberg Playhouse in 2005 to support new plays and artists.

In addition to theater, Shimberg was an avid sports fan and major supporter of Tampa teams and the Wisconsin Badgers, his alma mater’s football team.

“You always know what team was playing that day based on the shirt he was wearing,” Scott Shimberg said.

His father played a key role in keeping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in town and getting Raymond James Stadium built.

Shimberg was chairman of Tampa Sports Authority when the Glazer family bought the team in the 1990s. As the football representative for the organization, he sat in on meetings with the Glazers and local officials. Shimberg said in a 2017 interview that the Glazers were seriously considering leaving the Tampa Bay area without a new stadium, so he and others worked on a plan to use sales tax dollars to fund it. As a way to appeal to the public, the deal also funded schools and local infrastructure projects.

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“The Buccaneers are here in Tampa Bay now because of what he did behind the scenes to help negotiate,” Scott Shimberg said.

Shimberg and his wife were also well known local philanthropists. Greco said the family found ways to gave back to community their entire lives.

Shimberg and his wife, a breast cancer survivor, helped create the Shimberg Breast Center at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital. They also donated to the University of South Florida and the health sciences libraries were named after them.

Family was always most important to his father, Scott Shimberg said. Even after his mother’s death in April, his father continued a family tradition of having dinner with his children and grandchildren every Sunday night.

Shimberg is survived by five children, 10 grandchildren and a great grandchild.

A public memorial service will be held Nov. 24 at Congregation Schaarai Zedek in Tampa at 11:30 a.m. Instead of flowers, the family is asking for donations in Shimberg’s memory to go to the Tampa synagogue or the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.