Tampa Convention Center
|Tampa Convention Center|
|Address||333 S. Franklin Street|
|Owner||City of Tampa|
|• Total space||600,000 square feet (56,000 m2)|
|Public transit access||Dick Greco Plaza|
The Tampa Convention Center is a mid-sized convention center located in downtown Tampa, Florida at the mouth of the Hillsborough River. It has both waterfront views of Tampa Bay and views of the city's skyline. Harbour Island is across the eponymous bridge on the other side of the Garrison Channel. The center is connected to the neighboring Channelside District and Ybor City via the TECO Streetcar Line, which has a station across the street. The center opened in 1990 and encompasses 600,000 square feet (56,000 m2) in total. It has a 200,000 square feet (19,000 m2) exhibit hall, a ballroom capable of accommodating over 2,000 guests, and 36 meeting rooms that can be adjusted to various sizes. The facility hosts over 300 events per year.
The Tampa Convention Center is built on the historical site of Fort Brooke, the original American outpost on Tampa Bay established in 1824. The community of Tampa slowly grew around Fort Brooke through two wars with the Seminole Indians and the American Civil War. The post was decommissioned by the United States Army in 1883 and the land was sold for private use.
The former location of the fort was used for various industrial and commercial purposes until the late 1980s, when it was cleared to make way for a new convention center to replace Tampa's aging Curtis Hixon Hall. Construction began in early 1989, with the city of Tampa paying the $140 million cost by issuing municipal bonds. It opened in October 1990.
The city's original development plan called for the Tampa Convention Center to be built concurrently with a large hotel. However, financial difficulties and problems with developers caused this portion of the plan to be delayed until 2000, when the 27-story Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel, the city's largest, opened less than a block away on Garrison Channel. In 2006, more adjacent lodging was added when a 20-story Embassy Suites hotel opened directly across Franklin Street from the convention center. The newer hotel is connected to the convention center via a skybridge.
It hosts the yearly Tampa Bay Comic Con, anime convention MetroCon, as well as the Florida Bar Exam.
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