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Tampa Convention Center

Tampa's Convention Center is responsible for stimulating the local economy by providing a venue for international, national, regional, and state conventions, including trade shows and conferences, to attract the maximum number of out-of-town delegates to the area. Convention delegates, exhibitors and guests generate hotel room nights, and revenue throughout the Tampa/ Hillsborough County region resulting in a positive impact on the economy. In addition, the Tampa Convention Center provides a venue for our local, social, and civic organizations activities.

As a result of successful marketing and promotional programs, over 320 events are projected to take place during the fiscal year. Each year the Center has exceeded industry standards and has won several outstanding performance awards. Overall attendance will exceed 350,000 visitors during the fiscal year. The Tampa Convention Center will host the following events for the first time in 1999:

  • National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star Weekend
  • Grain Elevator and Processing Society
  • American Society of Healthcare Engineering
  • National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
  • International Fresh-Cut Produce Association
  • Association of Science Technology Centers
  • American Water Works Association
  • Southern Baptist Church

All of the new and redevelopment plans for the downtown area will enhance and contribute to new events at the Tampa Convention Center. The new Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel, headquarters hotel for the Tampa Convention Center, which is slated to open early in FY2000, has already sparked an increase of inquiries and site visits to the City.

The goals of the Tampa Convention Center are to increase the number of delegates and events held annually, generate long-term contracts with show managers, retain repeat business, target off-season periods, and increase our economic impact contribution to the community.

Convention Center Hotel

Ground was broken March 11, 1998 for the Tampa Convention Center's hotel. Host Marriotts' proposal was accepted by City Council to build the waterfront hotel. The hotel will be 590,000 square feet placed on 3.2 acres adjacent to the Convention Center on Ice Palace Drive along the Garrison Channel waterfront.

The complex will consist of; a 27 story, steel and glass tower, "resort style" 717 room hotel; three upscale restaurants; 45,000 square feet of meeting space with two ballrooms; and a 5,000 square foot swimming pool and health club. A riverwalk will connect the hotel to the Tampa Convention Center.

Construction of the hotel is expected to spur growth for the Center and the Florida Aquarium. Another benefit will be attracting more businesses to the same general area, retail as well as restaurants. This, in turn, creates more job opportunities in addition to the 500 new ones predicted for the hotel. The hotel is expected to be completed by December, 1999.

Tampa Museum of Art

The Tampa Museum of Art (TMA) is the City's premier showcase for the collection and exhibition of visual arts. With special exhibitions rotating every eight weeks, the Museum offers residents and visitors to the region opportunities to see some of the best in locally and nationally produced exhibitions.

In FY99, planned special exhibitions include:

  • Breaking Barriers: Contemporary Cuban Art;
  • Putt Modernism;
  • Alma Thomas;
  • John Martin Prints;
  • Re-installation of the Classical Gallery; and
  • Reflecting the Past: Contemporary Glass in Context.

Education is a major component of Museum activity. School programs serve approximately 20,000 students in Hillsborough County through tours and outreach materials. lectures, gallery talks, visiting artists, family activities and childrens' classes provide life-long learning opportunities for people of all ages.

During FY98, the museum completed several interior renovation projects and safety and security improvements. Roofing repairs and further interior renovation are planned for FY99. Efforts will continue to expand the Museum's role as a downtown attraction and visitor destination through exhibitions, programs and services, promotional efforts, and physical improvements.

Art In Public Places

The City of Tampa's Art in Public Places program seeks to visually enhance and enrich the City's public spaces with works of art and to expand the publics' awareness and appreciation for art as an integral component of the urban environment. The City of Tampa sets aside one percent (up to a cap of $200,000) of all new municipal building construction and renovation projects for its One Percent For Art Program.

The City's public art collection includes diverse outdoor works of art such as sculptures, murals, and fountains, as well as bridges, sidewalks, and parks that also function as art. It also showcases a Portable Works collection of contemporary paintings, photography, and works on paper by Florida artists, which are rotated periodically throughout the City's various municipal facilities in public lobby spaces.

Through the generosity of Tampa's individuals and corporations, gifts of public art augment the City's collection, which has expanded to include more than 80 original works. This year, two large paintings by Tampa artist, Theo Wujcik were acquired, and artists Diana Elmeer, Judith Page, and Mary Ann Unger graciously donated their work to the City's collection.

Recently recognized as one of the nation's most significant public art projects, the LIGHTNING sculpture, by internationally recognized artist, Jonathan Borofsky, was installed at the Ice Palace Plaza and dedicated by Mayor Dick Greco in October, 1997. At 75 feet, this sculpture is the tallest in the state of Florida. The NHL Tampa Bay Lightning organization received the Art in Public Places award from the Mayor for this innovative art and sports partnership with the City.

Another highlight of the public art program this year was the installation of public art on the median of picturesque Bayshore Boulevard. The WAVE, originally located at the City Hall Plaza, was moved to Bayshore Boulevard at Rubideaux. A grouping of three metal horses titled "Equinimity", a gift to the City by the wife of the late artist, Bud Oleson, was placed at the Bayshore, near Gunby.

Ongoing Public Art programs and projects are as follows:

In order to develop a master plan for public art, the Public Art Committee is hosting a series of meetings with the members of the community to discuss the future goals of the program.

A full color brochure promoting Tampa's public art was produced this year, made possible by the Tampa Tribune donating the brochure's design and production. This publication is distributed nationally.

Tampa's pubic art program has been the area's lead organization for the national public awareness campaign, Save Outdoor Sculpture! (SOS) through the National Museum of American Art, the Smithsonian and the National Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Property.

For FY99, the Mayor is funding an additional $100,000 for Art in Public Places. The funding will be used for acquisition, placement and relocation costs related to artwork.

Recreation Programs

Recreation services are an essential part of every community. The benefits of participating in recreational programs are endless. The City of Tampa's Recreation Department provides leisure and recreational activities for individuals and families that promote ethnic and cultural harmony, build self-esteem and develop leadership skills; as well as reducing stress, alienation, loneliness and antisocial behaviors.

The Department serves many of our citizens each year from tots to senior citizens and from the physically fit to the physically challenged through its four divisions: Athletics, Aquatics/Wellness, Community Centers and Playgrounds, and Special Populations and Events.

In FY99, Tampa Recreation Department services will reach over 3,500 seniors, 3,000 disabled persons, 40,000 children and 15,500 adults. The Department produces 12 special events a year, including the City of Tampa's only winter holiday festival, SantaFest. Special events target specific segments of Tampa's population, and provide families with low cost or no cost leisure and entertainment opportunities.

Youth Enrichment Program

In the last quarter of FY98, the Tampa Recreation Department implemented a Youth Enrichment Program. Research indicates that most juvenile crimes are committed between 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. by children with unsupervised discretionary time. Supervised after- school programs are offered at all 19 community centers and 38 playgrounds.

The Youth Enrichment Program aims to help reduce juvenile crime by providing youth, especially teen and pre-teens, with positive lifestyle choices and alternatives to destructive behavior. The Youth Enrichment Program was initially implemented at the Jackson Heights, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and North Tampa community centers. Additional centers will be added in FY99.

The prevention and intervention program will create positive alternatives for youth. The benefits include providing them with:

  • Positive adult role models;
  • A safe supervised and caring environment;
  • Increased self worth and respect for self and others, and
  • Marketable skills that increase job readiness.

 Fitness and Wellness Center

In light of increasing health care costs, the Tampa Recreation Department is committed to preserving and maintaining the health of the people we serve. In the first quarter of FY99, the Department will open its first Fitness and Wellness Center at the Interbay Community Center. In addition to exercise equipment and fitness classes, the center will offer health and wellness educational seminars promoting the positive benefits of a sound mind, healthy body and positive attitude.

The benefits for people who are involved in regular physical activities include:

  • Reduced stress, tension and anxiety
  • Reduced risk of immobility and mortality from severe chronic disease,
  • Improved health and well-being,
  • Enhanced self esteem and feelings of accomplishment, and
  • Protection against heart disease.

Sulphur Springs Pool

Sulphur Springs pool construction will begin in FY99. Phase I of this new water park will include: a bath house, a Tot Lot playground, picnic pavilions, and a new swimming pool with four competition swim lanes. Additional facilities planned for subsequent phases include renovation of the historic Gazebo and creation of a sandlot volleyball court.

This major project will have several positive benefits to the community. First, it will provide additional recreational activities for the Sulphur Springs and North Tampa communities. Second, vacationers can relax in the sun and enjoy the pool while taking in a piece of Tampa's history. The Sulphur Springs Pool is located between downtown Tampa, Ybor City and the area's number one tourist attraction, Busch Gardens. Third, the Sulphur Springs Pool will be a great source of community pride as it is restored to its distinctive style of a bygone era.

Copeland Park Community Center and Gym

The addition of a community center and a full size gymnasium will take place during FY99 at Copeland Park. The project is primarily funded through Community Investment Tax funds.

The facility will include a full size gym, fitness room, meeting room, and a craft room. This major addition to Copeland Park will allow for many community uses and will provide for additional recreational services to the community including after school programs, youth sports programs, programs for seniors and adults, youth enrichment programs, and prevention and intervention programs. The gym will serve as a location for a variety of City-wide uses for youth and adult sports. This addition to the existing pool and park will make this a true recreation complex.


The Recreation Department constantly reviews the community's needs for up-to-date programs, thus continuing to keep events current as well as useful. Appropriate staffing, operating costs and capital equipment for the Sulphur Springs and Copeland Park facilities are included in the Parks and Recreation Department budgets. The future for the Recreation Department is also progressive. The City is currently reviewing the possibility of a Recreational Facilities Improvement bond issue. This bond issue would replace, expand and/or rehabilitate several of the City's recreational facilities.

Parks Programs

Programs to address the parks and recreational needs of the community will again be funded in FY99. The department continually evaluates its operations and staff to encourage effectiveness and efficiency in operations to meet the needs and concerns of citizens and neighborhoods.

Funding has been approved for a Park Naturalist position, to provide upland habitat ordinance compliance. A complete survey of existing parks and medians is also funded. From this survey, adjustments will be incorporated into the Park's Matrix Plan, which is a comprehensive, multi-year, revolving, and renewal plan of all Parks' operations. Among Park's programs are enhancements of parkway via landscaping, athletic field maintenance, and greenway acquisitions for bikeway trails.

Some projects which will provide City-wide improvements in FY99 are as follows:

A ten year City-wide tree program consists of planting 1,000 live oak trees each year for ten years. The Parks Department will be working with neighborhood associations, service organizations, and volunteers to plant 1,000 trees year round on rights-of-way, infilling in parks and playgrounds, and public areas throughout the City.

Installation of North Tampa entrance signage and beautification. The landscaping for Bruce B. Downs Boulevard will be completed in September, 1999. When completed, Bruce B. Downs Boulevard will have new irrigated plant beds from Cypress Creek north past Tampa Palms.

Installing irrigation along Busch Boulevard following with median beautification. The Parks Department will irrigate and re-landscape the medians from Florida Avenue to the eastern City limits on Busch Boulevard. The Parks Department will be submitting a highway Beautification Grant to match City funds on this project. All work should be completed by June, 1999.

Ybor City Gateway is under design and has received approval from the Barrio Latino for construction on 7th Avenue near Nuccio Parkway. This gateway will be constructed in the Fall of 1998.

The Benito School soccer fields project is a collaborative effort between the City Parks and Recreation Departments, the Hillsborough County School System and the New Tampa Soccer Association. Three soccer fields will be developed on County School Board property in the New Tampa area. Construction should be completed in the Fall of 1998.

Parks Grants

Grants approved, awarded or active in FY98 include:

  • A State Park Florida Recreation and Development Assistance Program grant for picnic shelters, walkways, playground equipment and site work for Sulphur Springs Pool
  • Hillsborough County Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program (ELAPP) grants for:
  • Hillsborough River Greenway: 22nd St Hammock
  • Jamaica Lake Greenway

Hillsborough County's Pollution Recovery Trust Fund/Gardinier Trust Fund grants for:

  • Hillsborough River-Epps Park Shoreline Restoration and Pollution Control
  • Hillsborough River-Rivercrest and River Boulevard Park
  • Shore Restoration
  • McKay Bay Park Trails and Bikeways
  • McKay Bay/Desoto Park additional shoreline restoration
  • Tampa Port Authority Sovereign Lands Management Program grant for Hillsborough River/Rivercrest Shoreline Restoration
  • Hillsborough County Beautification grant for landscaping on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard
  • Southwest Florida Water Management District Cooperative Funding grant for Ballast Point Seawall Enhancement

Florida Department of Community Affairs Preservation 2000 (Florida Communities Trust) grants for:

  • Hillsborough River: Tower/Key Bank Restoration Site
  • New Tampa-Flatwoods Site
  • Ft. Brooke/Chavez Parcel

The City is applying for the following grants for FY99:

  • Department of Environmental Protection's National Recreational Trails Program grant for McKay Bay Bike Trails
  • Department of Community Affairs Coastal Management grant for Cypress Point parking lot and trails access
  • Highway Beautification grant from Florida Department of Transportation for landscaping Busch Boulevard
  • Highway Beautification grant from Florida Department of Transportation for landscaping I-4/22nd St. to Adamo Drive
  • Florida Department of State, Division of Historic Resources Historic Preservation grants-in-aid for Robles Park and/or Sulphur Springs
  • Department of Environmental Protection Artificial Reef grant to fill in a hole in the Bay and create a reef at Cypress Point

Ragan Park Center

The Ragan Park Center was destroyed by fire in April, 1997. Funds to rebuild this structure have been provided in FY98 from HUD's Community Development Block Grant. This center was used as a rental building for various social events. Hillsborough County used the center for a food program and provided hot meals and a place to meet for neighborhood senior citizens. City staff also used this center as a meeting location and for various City events.

Rebuilding at the current site will provide the citizens of Tampa with an updated facility to better meet their needs. Construction bids are scheduled to go out in August, 1998.

Cancer Survivors Memorial

The City of Tampa dedicated two acres in the southwest corner of Al Lopez Park as the Richard and Annette Bloch Cancer Survivor Plaza. The R.A. Bloch Foundation will donate $1 million to build and maintain the memorial. The plaza is to include a computer display of cancer survivor's stories, a "Positive Mental Attitude" walkway with 14 message plaques, seven bronze statues, and a "Cancer…there's hope" sculpture, depicting stages of survivorship from detection to a cure.

The memorial's purpose is to remind people that there is a possibility of surviving cancer and to encourage them to fight rather than give up. A plaza facility design competition was held to incorporate these art works to fit the local history and environment. In June, 1998, a designer was chosen to design the plaza, utilizing input from the Cancer Survivors Plaza Planning Committee. The projected completion date is Summer, 1999.

Mayor's Beautification Program

The Mayor's Beautification Program Committee, comprised of approximately 50 members of the community, was established in 1989 to landscape public property in conjunction with the Parks Department. This program utilizes the Steps Toward Environmental Partnership (STEPS), an at-risk youth on-the-job training program. The Committee also encourages volunteer participation in carrying out programs and grants.

Projects for FY99 include landscaping for the Raymond James Stadium, Hillsborough River clean-up and participation in the weekly City NEAT program. Other beautification programs supported by the Committee include Trees for Tampa, the Tampa Downtown Rotary Tree Pruning Program and highway beautification.

Steps Toward Environmental Partnership

The Parks Department continues to work with the Mayor's Beautification Program training youngsters in landscape maintenance. This program is entitled Steps Toward Environmental Partnership (STEPS).

Teens, as young as 14, can apply for work in the entry level programs, and progress up through the steps until their high school graduation and a little beyond, if necessary. Through rigorous employment training and personal growth programs, these youngsters gain work experience sought by employers.

Each job opportunity (or step) in the program is different. However, the overall goals are the same, to teach by example: ethics, proper work habits, usable work skills, provide the participants with mentors, and possible career goals. The Parks Department's slogan for all of the steps is "Give the child a dream, then give them the skills to make that dream come true".

Over 70 adolescents ranging in ages from 14 to 19 are hired to participate in one out of three summer youth job programs within the Parks Department. Where possible, the younger participants are teamed up with older participants who act as mentors and supervisors.

As openings occur, the best participants from the summer programs are then selected to work year round, in one of two Saturday/Sunday programs. These participants may continue to work within the STEPS program until they find a better job, using the Parks Department as a reference, or they can stay in the program until they graduate from high school.

After graduation, the participants will have acquired good references, on-the-job training, and numerous opportunities. They will be able to interview with the Parks Department for a part-time or full-time year round job, and they may also have an opportunity to interview for a job with one of the corporate sponsors.

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Leisure Projects

In FY99, Tampa will receive CDBG funds from the Federal Government for various activities, including capital projects. CDBG expenditures are subject to federal guidelines and generally are applicable to specific neighborhoods occupied by citizens of low and moderate income.

The FY99 funds will be used for:

Various Parks and Recreation Facilities Improvements


Cuscaden Pool Improvements


Ancillary and Play Equipment


Cyrus Green Playground Parking Lot Improvements


Fencing and Vehicle Control


Bleacher Replacement





City of Tampa Government Access Television (GATV) was the recipient of three national awards this year: "The Mayor's Hour" received an award in the Live category and the scrolling list of "Sexual Predators" received an award in the Videotext/Bulletin Board category. The final award received is a special tribute to the entire City of Tampa because it was Overall Excellence in Government Access Programming, the best GATV programming in the country.

GATV viewership results have been compiled. About 55% of the respondents watch the GATV channel. The top ten most watched programs are:

  • City Council meetings;
  • Board of County Commissioners meetings;
  • The Mayor's Hour;
  • the Friday Extra Concert Series;
  • Behind the Scenes at Tampa Police Department;
  • the Community Affairs Report;
  • Variance Review Board meetings;
  • Development Tampa;
  • Beneath the Surface at the Florida Aquarium; and
  • Safe and Healthy Lifestyles.