Bayfront Center

Coordinates: 27°45′59.7″N 82°37′54.1″W / 27.766583°N 82.631694°W / 27.766583; -82.631694
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Bayfront Center
1960s postcard
Address400 First Street South
LocationSt. Petersburg, Florida
Coordinates27°45′59.7″N 82°37′54.1″W / 27.766583°N 82.631694°W / 27.766583; -82.631694
OwnerCity of St. Petersburg
CapacityConcerts: 8,600
Indoor soccer: 6,410
Ice hockey: 5,800
Broke groundSeptember 19, 1963
OpenedMay 1, 1965
DemolishedDecember 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[1] and demolished in 2004. It adjoined the Mahaffey Theater, which is still standing.

President Richard Nixon in Bayfront Center Arena in 1970

Musical acts[edit]

Over its 40-year history, a wide variety of top entertainers performed at the Bayfront Center including: Elvis Presley,[2] Metallica, Lynyrd Skynyrd, B.B. King, Van Halen, Bruce Springsteen, Frank Sinatra, Aerosmith, the Beach Boys, James Brown,[3] the Grateful Dead, Elton John, RUSH, The Police, Johnny Cash, the Beastie Boys, Liberace, Bon Jovi, Jimmy Buffett, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, KISS, and The Who.[4]



The venue hosted the American Basketball Association's The Floridians when the team played in St. Petersburg during the 1970–71 and 1971–72 seasons.

The South Florida Bulls men's basketball team used the Bayfront Center for some home games between 1974-1980.[5]

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.[6] 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.[7][8]

Ice hockey[edit]

The Bayfront Center was home ice for the St. Petersburg Suns of the Eastern Hockey League from 1971 to 1973, and then for the Suncoast Suns of the Southern Hockey League for the 1973–74 season.

Indoor soccer[edit]

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.

The Tampa Bay Terror of the National Professional Soccer League also used the venue in the 1995–96 and 1996–97 seasons.

Other events[edit]

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 Pinellas County Industrial and Aerospace Exhibition, featuring several of NASA's Apollo program displays, was held at the venue from 1968 to 1971.[9]

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.

Additionally, the Bayfront Center was the location for most of Pinellas County high school commencement ceremonies.


The Bayfront Center was finally imploded in 2004 to make way for an eventual replacement facility for the nearby Salvador Dalí Museum.[10]


  1. ^ "Bayfront Center Dedication Today". St. Petersburg Times. May 1, 1965. p. 1B. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  2. ^ "Elvis Presley in concert –State of Florida". Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  3. ^ Abbott, Jim (August 23, 1992). "James Brown: Recovered Soul". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  4. ^ "Bayfront Center St. Petersburg Concert Setlists". Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  5. ^ "Sun Dome no more: After years of struggle, can the new Yuengling Center find a soul?". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Wilson, Jon (19 July 2000). "New basketball team to call Bayfront home". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2 October 2020.
  8. ^ "ABA 2000 Tampa Bay Thunderdawgs Won't See Action In '02". Sports Business Journal. 2 October 2001. Retrieved 2 October 2020.
  9. ^ "Aerospace Exhibit Will Open Friday" (February 4, 1969) St. Petersburg Times, p. 4B
  10. ^ Spears, Steve (December 1, 2004). "Bye-bye, Bayfront arena". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 17 March 2017.