Dana Shores residents, developers at odds over sports complex

Published Feb. 14, 2013

TAMPA — Residents, real estate professionals and developers gathered Wednesday at Tampa International Airport to hear about plans for seven nearby parcels of property the airport owns.

But Dana Shores residents were focused on a former Arena Football League team owner's hopes of putting a $20 million sports complex next to their neighborhood on a 23-acre parcel the airport owns along its western boundary.

It's currently zoned as a "scenic preserve," sits across from the airport on the opposite side of the Veterans Expressway and is used as a buffer from noise.

But former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco said it could be a potential site for the sports complex. Greco is assisting a group led by investment manager and former Tampa Bay Storm owner Bob Gries, who wants to build the complex in the West Shore district.

Greco stressed that it's one of many possible sites. But he also noted that it's an attractive parcel because land is so scarce in West Shore. It sits between the Courtney Campbell Parkway and Skyway Park, so it's already near baseball fields.

"The idea is a good one if you can find a piece of land that benefits everyone," Greco said.

Many Dana Shores residents, however, oppose the idea. Greco said there's no firm plans nor any designs, but that his group will meet with residents to address their concerns.

The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority's governing board wasn't at Wednesday's meeting. Its members are the only ones who can vote to change the parcel's "scenic preserve" status.

"We're in the middle of a master plan process," said airport spokeswoman Janet Zink, "and our consultants have recommended leaving that property as a scenic preserve."