TAMPA, FL – As the Tampa Convention Center progresses with its ambitious capital improvement plan, part of the Tampa Riverwalk will be rerouted starting October 13 to allow for the construction of 18 new waterfront meeting rooms.
Unanimously approved by Tampa City Council in October 2020, the $ 38 million capital improvement plan is the largest renovation project in the history of the Tampa Convention Center.
With completion slated for fall 2023, city officials said the improvements will result in increased efficiency, more conveniences for conventioneers, cost savings for the city and increased demand for the facility in as a host of national conventions and world events.
Opened in 1990 at 333 S. Franklin St., the 600,000 square foot Tampa waterfront convention center was in dire need of modernization and additional meeting space to compete with convention centers. other major cities in the country, said Una Garvey, convention center and director of tourism.
“The renovation of our meeting spaces and additional meeting rooms will allow us to remain competitive in an ever-changing market,” said Garvey. “With these efforts, we will be able to attract larger events and bring more visitors and businesses to Tampa.”
The plan foresees the modernization of the entire first floor of the congress center with a number of technological improvements.
Skanska, who designed and built everything from large stadiums to airports, was hired to oversee the expansion and renovations, with Baker Barrios Architects providing design services.
Unfortunately, the complexity of building the 18 new meeting rooms requires the 400-foot rerouting of the Tampa Riverwalk directly behind the Tampa Convention Center at a time when the popular Riverwalk is at its busiest, hosting upcoming seasonal events.
Detour signage will redirect pedestrians and cyclists around the construction area from October 13 through November 2022, when construction of the meeting rooms is expected to be completed.
Upcoming improvements to the Tampa Convention Center
The 18 new waterfront meeting rooms will span 18,000 square feet over two levels within the convention center. They will include overhead walls (removable) for added flexibility, a deck for more outdoor space, floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the Garrison Canal and the Hillsborough River, new washrooms and a second service elevator.
The rooms will serve as flexible space that can be converted into an extension of the existing 200,000 square foot exhibition hall, which can now accommodate up to 1,000 10 square foot exhibition booths.
Projects already completed include renovating the 36,000 square foot ballroom, including a new carpet, paint, new fabric on the movable walls and improved lighting; improved toilets; and improvements to The Sail Plaza, which were completed in May 2020.
Completed July 1, the completely redesigned Sail Plaza with its 360-degree waterfront bar features an expanded seating area and shade structure. The million dollar renovation project includes new decor, new flooring and now allows for unobstructed waterfront views throughout the lodge. An innovative ramp system will guide foot traffic, allowing more outdoor events along the Tampa Riverwalk. The toilets now include a family toilet and air conditioning.
The Sail Plaza includes Big Ray’s Fish Camp restaurant, a local favorite for seafood in the Tampa Bay area. Plus, the Datz restaurant, a Tampa favorite since opening in South Tampa in 2009, has joined the place.
Inside the convention center, the 25 existing meeting rooms have been updated with new carpet, paint, new fabric on the movable walls and improved lighting.
The centre’s 15 restrooms have also been upgraded with modern large-format wall-to-wall tiles, built-in sinks, stainless steel touchless appliances and backlit mirrors.
A new Starbucks cafe, adjacent to the showrooms, replaced the existing Ybor cafe.
Showroom concessions have been modernized to include updated menus with new signage and digital menu boards.
And the three-story rotunda area now includes Nourish, a healthy bowl concept to choose from. This modular kiosk offers new offerings based on customer preferences with a wide choice and a focus on efficient customer service.
After a number of cancellations during the coronavirus pandemic, the convention center is in high demand, hosting events this year including Metrocon, Florida’s largest anime convention, the Tampa Bay Comic Convention (Comic Con) and the Florida Boat Show.
- From Wednesday until Friday, the center will host Metalcon, an annual conference and exhibition for the metal construction industry attended by craftsmen, architects, builders, designers, framers, contractors and professionals from the metallurgical industry.
- The Digital Summit, which as the name suggests focuses on digital technology companies, is scheduled for October 13-14.
- The Hot Tub and Swim Spa Blowout 2021 runs from October 15 to 17.
- The American Bankers Association convention October 18-19.
- The Seventh Annual Tattoo Arts Convention October 22-24.
- Tampa Bay Home Show October 23-24.
- The Tampa Condo & HOA Expo October 28.
- Sneaker Games, the first Sneaker Heads convention to buy, sell and trade their most valuable sneakers, is scheduled for October 30th.
- The summit of the National Conference of State Legislators takes place from October 31 to November 6.
- The Oddities & Curiosities exhibit, featuring sellers of weird and spooky items including quack medical devices, funeral collectibles and taxidermy, will take place on November 13.
- The Prego Expo, the first exhibition on pregnancy, parenthood and the baby, takes place on November 14.
- The Florida Music Education Association will be hosting their professional development conference January 12-14.
- The Streetz dance convention and competition is scheduled for January 22-23.
- Florida Huddle 2022, the official Florida travel show, is scheduled for January 24-26.
- The National Association of Trailer Manufacturers will meet from January 30 to February 3.
Click here for a full list of upcoming events.