Tampa's 'Exploding Chicken' gets new roost

Times (2005)
Times (2005)
Published April 3, 2013

TAMPA — Tampa's favorite chicken soon will be exploding once again.

The sculpture colloquially known as the Exploding Chicken — officially, it doesn't have a title — is being reassembled this week in the center of the roundabout north of the Florida Aquarium.

NationsBank, now Bank of America, commissioned artist George Sugarman to create the black, white and yellow sculpture in 1985. It sat near Kennedy Boulevard and Ashley Drive for about 25 years before the new owners of Rivergate Tower (itself better known as the Beer Can Building) donated it to the city.

Costs to move the sculpture had been estimated at up to $150,000 — something City Hall couldn't afford — so Tampa economic opportunity administrator Bob McDonaugh rounded up businesses to cover nearly all of the costs of taking it apart, storing it and moving it to its new home.

"It was kind of a local icon, it was going to get scrapped, (and) I thought it was worth saving," McDonaugh said Monday.

The only costs to the city have been building the foundation and hiring a big crane to help lift the parts into place this week.

"The people who are out there right now are volunteering their time," McDonaugh said.

The steel-and-aluminum sculpture is 36 feet tall. Once installed, officials say, it will be repainted its original colors.