|Address||400 First Street South|
|Location||St. Petersburg, Florida|
|Owner||City of St. Petersburg|
Indoor soccer: 6,410
Ice hockey: 5,800
|Broke ground||September 19, 1963|
|Opened||May 1, 1965|
|Demolished||December 1, 2004|
|Construction cost||$5 million|
|The Floridians (ABA) (1970–1972)|
St. Petersburg Suns (EHL) (1971–1973)
Suncoast Suns (SHL) (1973)
Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL/AISA) (1975–1984, 1986–1987)
Tampa Bay Thrillers (CBA) (1984–1985, 1986–1987)
Tampa Bay Terror (NPSL) (1995–1997)
Tampa Bay ThunderDawgs (ABA) (2000-2001)
Bayfront Center was an indoor arena located in St. Petersburg, Florida that hosted many concerts, sporting and other events. Depending on the configuration, it could hold up to 8,600 people. The arena was opened in 1965 and demolished in 2004. It adjoined the Mahaffey Theater, which is still standing.
Over its 40-year history, a wide variety of top entertainers performed at the Bayfront Center including: Elvis Presley, Metallica, Lynyrd Skynyrd, B.B. King, Van Halen, Bruce Springsteen, Frank Sinatra, Aerosmith, the Beach Boys, James Brown, the Grateful Dead, Elton John, RUSH, The Police, Johnny Cash, the Beastie Boys, Liberace, Bon Jovi, Jimmy Buffett, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, and The Who.
The Tampa Bay Thrillers of the Continental Basketball Association played two non-consecutive seasons (1984–85 and 1986–87) in the arena, winning the CBA title in 1985. Because of an apparent rent/lease dispute they moved to Tampa the following year and won another title. With a new owner at the helm they returned to the Bayfront Center for their third season. Attendance sagged to as few as 295 fans, so the franchise relocated to Rapid City, South Dakota at the end of that regular season, and won that year's CBA title for an unusual three-peat. The arena served as the home arena of the Tampa Bay ThunderDawgs of the ABA for the 2000-2001 season.
The Tampa Bay Rowdies of the North American Soccer League played nearly all of their indoor home games at the Bayfront Center throughout their NASL existence, winning titles in 1976, 1979–80 and 1983. The Rowdies later joined American Indoor Soccer Association and again used the arena for the AISA 1986–87 season.
From the 1960s to the 1990s, the Bayfront Center was the location for Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey's annual spring TV taping. Until 1992, every spring Ringling Brothers taped a network TV special from the arena and also shot all the photos for their programs there.
The arena also hosted many professional wrestling events, among them the WCW's SuperBrawl I and VI, and Slamboree (1995). Other groups, such as Jehovah's Witnesses, held annual conventions featuring Bible discourses, which were free of charge.
- "Bayfront Center Dedication Today". St. Petersburg Times. May 1, 1965. p. 1B. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
- "Elvis Presley in concert –State of Florida". www.elvisconcerts.com. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
- Abbott, Jim (August 23, 1992). "James Brown: Recovered Soul". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
- "Bayfront Center St. Petersburg Concert Setlists". www.setlist.fm. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
- "Sun Dome no more: After years of struggle, can the new Yuengling Center find a soul?". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2020-08-28.
- Bob Harig, Bill Ward (January 6, 1987). "Thrillers' boss, coach clash over talk of move". St. Petersburg Times Times. p. 1C. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
- Wilson, Jon (19 July 2000). "New basketball team to call Bayfront home". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2 October 2020.
- "ABA 2000 Tampa Bay Thunderdawgs Won't See Action In '02". Sports Business Journal. 2 October 2001. Retrieved 2 October 2020.
- "Aerospace Exhibit Will Open Friday" (February 4, 1969) St. Petersburg Times, p. 4B
- Spears, Steve (December 1, 2004). "Bye-bye, Bayfront arena". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 17 March 2017.