From Hamilton to Datz, Tampa Bay looks ahead to 2018

Published Dec. 27, 2017

You don't have to look far to find a grievance to log with 2017.

From national tragedies to deaths of some favorite celebrities to an increasingly bitter political divide, it was a year fraught with change and pain. But how about our own backyard? Let's find things to look forward to in Tampa Bay in 2018.


Well, maybe. The box office-busting Broadway musical about the life and times of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr is stopping in Tampa for the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts' 2018-19 season. We've yet to get an exact date. But we do know season ticket holders for the current Straz season are guaranteed seats to Hamilton when they renew for the 2018-19 season. Now, how to convince creator Lin-Manuel Miranda to stop by?

Venue makeovers

Speaking of performing arts. Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater is in the midst of a giant renovation, with plans for a 6,000-square-foot lobby, a 250-seat cabaret theater and traffic and parking improvements. In November, the theater received a $1.5 million donation, which is sure to help. Tampa Theatre just reopened after a facelift that will continue through 2018, meant to restore its historic 1926 glory. And over at the Straz, more seats are slated to be replaced in the summer, among other improvements. We'll also be watching continuing discussions about easing that parking jam.

New museums

We're awaiting two major additions to the art scene in St. Petersburg, the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement and the Tom and Mary James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art, both in heavy construction right now. I got a peek at the site of the latter, and I can already tell it's going to be a hot spot for weddings and events.

Restaurant explosion

The food scene keeps growing and growing, and while some contraction this year is inevitable, it's fun to watch (and indulge). St. Petersburg's Il Ritorno is reopening after some freshening up. We're awaiting a Datz outpost in the spring in St. Petersburg and a project from Food Network personality Dr. BBQ, a.k.a. Ray Lampe. And the Armature Works in Tampa is expected to have an in-house market (including a version of Ichicoro, the popular ramen empire), two restaurants and an event hall. Hungry yet?