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Old April 10th, 2010, 12:53 AM   #21
TampaMike
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If there is anywhere that a "Welcome to Tampa" sign could go, the bridge will be a great area location to have one. I know we talked a while back of having some signage to welcome visitors from Orlando and elsewhere somewhere in that area.
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Old April 10th, 2010, 06:29 AM   #22
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It's always killed me that just about every major Florida city has a welcome sign on the Interstate except our cheap ass metro.
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Old April 12th, 2010, 05:53 PM   #23
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Site plan is exciting. Let's just hope it doesn't end up like the old Boardwalk City outside of Orlando.
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Old April 12th, 2010, 09:49 PM   #24
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I personally think this is a great idea for Tampa. With the HSR coming and Tampa lacking any kind of "identity" compared to Orlando and it's stops, I am all for Orlando continuing to be the land of Mickey Mouse and make believe and Tampa building on it's reputation of gambling and strip club capital of the world! At least we will draw tourists craving "adult" entertainment and this development might actually give us a chance of making the HSR work in our favor...on our end anyway. Ridership should be fine for LRT as well IF/WHEN they connect the dots to the fairgrounds. FINALLY...someone is thinking of Tampa as a destination instead of the end of the line!
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Old April 13th, 2010, 02:32 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TPAMAN View Post
FINALLY...someone is thinking of Tampa as a destination instead of the end of the line!
Gotta agree. Since HSR seems to be aimed more at tourists (at least for now), this would give those flying into and staying in Orlando more of a reason to come to Tampa.

Could it be worth lobbying for an additional HSR stop?
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Old April 13th, 2010, 04:34 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Jahi98 View Post
Gotta agree. Since HSR seems to be aimed more at tourists (at least for now), this would give those flying into and staying in Orlando more of a reason to come to Tampa.

Could it be worth lobbying for an additional HSR stop?
Right now? Probably not. Even with this and the HR expansion, it doesn't really compare to Disney and OCCC. It will take more than what is planned to land another HSR station in Tampa. Now, if we got the larger share of major casinos in that area, like a mini-Las Vegas area, then maybe. But a larger Hard Rock, Resort Hotel, and Soccer stadium isn't going to qualify the area at this moment for another station.
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Old April 13th, 2010, 08:04 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TPAMAN View Post
I personally think this is a great idea for Tampa. With the HSR coming and Tampa lacking any kind of "identity" compared to Orlando and it's stops, I am all for Orlando continuing to be the land of Mickey Mouse and make believe and Tampa building on it's reputation of gambling and strip club capital of the world! At least we will draw tourists craving "adult" entertainment and this development might actually give us a chance of making the HSR work in our favor...on our end anyway. Ridership should be fine for LRT as well IF/WHEN they connect the dots to the fairgrounds. FINALLY...someone is thinking of Tampa as a destination instead of the end of the line!
Well, except that the fairgrounds and casino will be nowhere near Tampa's one and only HSR station.

Welcome to Tampa!
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Old April 13th, 2010, 06:46 PM   #28
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Well, except that the fairgrounds and casino will be nowhere near Tampa's one and only HSR station.

Welcome to Tampa!
MY point exactly!
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Old April 13th, 2010, 10:43 PM   #29
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I know it doesn't make sense for HSR to stop at the fairgrounds but maybe, if the future light rail cars were designed with the future in mind, light rail and high speed rail could share the same track. I don't know how many high speed train trips between Tampa and Orlando will occur but let's say there is no less than 30 minutes between trains (probably reasonable?) you could launch a train, then 5 minutes later, launch a light rail train. By the time the light rail train got to the fairgrounds, it would be docked and the high speed rail would pass by it. It would act as a "local" train.

Orlando may be able to do something similar. Heck you may want to have that as an option so in the future you can have a 1 to 2 stop super express service between Tampa and Orlando's airport.

--Joe
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Old May 7th, 2010, 06:41 PM   #30
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Seminole casino tempting draw for would-be fairgrounds developers
By MICHAEL SASSO | The Tampa Tribune

http://www2.tbo.com/content/2010/may...s-/news-money/

An urban legend circulating in Tampa is that the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is drawing 7 million people a year.

If true, that means the casino is attracting over 20,000 people a day, a figure that shocks some local dignitaries who have heard the rumor.

It's not clear where the figure came from, though. A spokesman for the Seminole Tribe of Florida said he doesn't know exactly how many people visit the casino. The 7 million figure is at least possible, he said.

True or not, the combination of the Orient Road casino's crowds and the fairgrounds' location near the intersection of two interstate highways spells dollar signs to developers, area land owners and the fairgrounds itself.

Republic Land Development, a Washington, D.C.-area developer, is willing to bet hundreds of millions of dollars that a massive entertainment complex in the shadows of the casino could turn the sleepy fairgrounds area into a thriving "gateway" to the Tampa Bay area.

Still, some wonder: should the public deliver control to much of the state-owned fairgrounds to a private developer?

In recent months, the buzz surrounding the proposed fairgrounds project concerned its link to Major League Baseball. Last year, Republic Land turned in documents to the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services – which owns the fairgrounds – showing a potential baseball stadium there.

The proposed stadium overshadowed the other elements of Republic Land's massive project, which could cost up to $1 billion: hotels with as many as 2,600 rooms; a multi-purpose athletic facility for soccer, tennis and other sports; shops and restaurants; a golf-themed restaurant with its own driving range; and even a monorail to shuttle people around.

The developer proposes to lease about 162 acres of the fairgrounds' 355 acres. That would leave about 112 acres for the annual fair and additional land for other needs.

The stadium idea was speculative from the start. The Tampa Bay Rays are known to covet a new ballpark, but the team never confirmed any interest in relocating to the fairgrounds.

Last month, Republic Land said it had dropped its ballpark proposal, although the company appeared to keep the door open. When pressed about a potential baseball stadium, Republic Land development director Stacy Hornstein said it was willing to build infrastructure for whatever the community wants.

Republic Land insists the fairground is ripe for a shopping and entertainment complex, baseball or not. And the people flocking to the casino are a big part of its plans.

With its strategic location at the nexus of Interstate 4 and U.S. 301 – a stone's throw from Interstate 75 – the rustic fairgrounds today seems out of place. In any other community, the intersection might be home to a huge outlet mall.

Its internal network of roads is winding, confusing and dusty. Its pens for cows, pigs and horses sit empty most days. The sleek, white-canopied Ford Amphitheatre stands out from the fairgrounds' barn-like exhibition halls.

"(The fairgrounds) hasn't been developed, in my view, because I don't think anyone knew the numbers they were doing across the street at the casino," said Dick Greco, a former mayor of Tampa who's serving as a consultant to Republic Land.

Today, some hoteliers in the area report getting a spillover effect from the casino, which can't accommodate all of its overnight visitors in the Seminoles' 250-room hotel. Big shows at the amphitheater, such as last month's Jimmy Buffett concert, also bring in business for nearby hotels.

"The casino definitely draws," said Pat Moran, who owns a Holiday Inn Express across from the fairgrounds. "They fill every single day. We get their overflow when they get that.

"When Jimmy Buffett comes, we can charge 200 bucks and they'll (concertgoers) beg for the room."

Officials involved in the Republic Land, too, don't hide the fact they want to feed off of the casino's success. They envision a regional hub where visitors could play the tables or slots across the highway, shop, grab dinner and find a room for the night. They envision a pedestrian crossing so patrons could go from the fairgrounds to the casino.

The developer is encouraged that the Seminoles plan to expand the casino, even if the Hard Rock's expansion includes a proposed 1,000-room hotel tower that would compete with the hotels at the fairgrounds.

Lou Plasencia, a hotel industry consultant working on the fairgrounds project, insisted the project would work even if the casino wasn't across I-4. He envisions big groups of conventioneers attending conferences at the fairgrounds' expanded meeting rooms, then sleeping at the fairgrounds' hotels.

Before the fairgrounds becomes a bustling hotel and entertainment complex, the developer may have to do some hard lobbying.

The Florida State Fair Authority, the board that calls the shots on the fairgrounds, is a mix of urbanites and agricultural types. Some see progress in retail stores and sports fields, some favor the fairgrounds' old-Florida Cracker Country exhibit.

On the upside, leasing land to a developer for a huge hotel and entertainment complex might bring in millions of dollars for the fairgrounds. At the moment, the fairgrounds brings in about $17 million a year and turns a small profit from running the annual fair and leasing land to the Ford Amphitheater.

However, it's not enough to pay for the major upgrades at the fairgrounds, said fairgrounds Executive Director Chuck Pesano. The Fair Authority has long-range plans to add more convention space, improve its road system and renovate its older buildings. If it were to fulfill all of its plans the cost would be $61 million.

On the downside, other people worry the fairgrounds' core mission – serving agriculture and operating a fair – will be lost. As board member Billy Bowman said last month, when Republic Land revealed its proposal, the Fair Authority's state charter "says nothing about having a shopping center."

In fact, plans for a massive development at the fairgrounds were scuttled once before.

In 2000, the Mills Corp., which built the sprawling Sawgrass Mills outlet mall in South Florida, wanted to take over the fairgrounds and build a megamall called Tampa Bay Mills. The company wanted to relocate the fairgrounds to a plot of land in south Hillsborough County.

However, after a lengthy flirtation, Mills bolted when company officials thought the Fair Authority put too many conditions on the deal.

Today, whatever comes of the development proposal, Fair Authority members feel the dusty, sleepy fairgrounds is suddenly prime property. The area could become more valuable if the future high-speed rail project puts a train stop nearby, said Lou Betz, a member of the Fair Authority

"With the Hard Rock doing as well as it is right up the street, a lot of people are going to be looking at it," added fellow board member Joe Voskerichian.
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Old June 11th, 2010, 09:23 PM   #31
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Development at the fairgrounds closer to reality

By MICHAEL SASSO | The Tampa Tribune

Published: June 10, 2010

Updated: 06/11/2010 03:00

TAMPA - A proposal to put hotels, stores, sports facilities and even a monorail at the Florida State Fairgrounds got a step closer, although the fairgrounds board stopped short of endorsing a Washington developer's plans.

At a meeting Thursday, the Florida State Fair Authority approved hiring a consulting firm called Populous to study the fairgrounds' long-range plan and determine what kind of development - if any - would work there. As early as July, the board could ask developers to submit ideas on how they would develop the fairgrounds.

It was an early win for Republic Land, a well-connected developer from the Washington, D.C., area that wants to build a massive hotel, shopping and sports complex at the fairgrounds, just across Interstate 4 from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

A few months ago, some members of the Fair Authority seemed skeptical about any development. It wasn't meant to house a shopping center, at least one member said at the time.

However, board members unanimously approved sending it to the consultant. That doesn't mean the fairgrounds will be redeveloped, but it does move the process forward.

"You could always find reasons for why you shouldn't do something, but I've always been of a mind to find a reason why we should do it," said Sandy MacKinnon, the Fair Authority's chairman, during a morning committee meeting that preceded the full board meeting.

Republic Land's massive proposal could encompass 162 acres of the fairgrounds' 355 acres. Its plan would still leave 112 acres for the annual fair and additional land for other fair uses.

Among its ideas are hotels with as many as 2,600 rooms, a shopping complex, a multi-use sports stadium that could hold soccer, tennis and other events and even a monorail to shuttle people around.

Originally, Republic proposed building a professional baseball stadium there, too, potentially for the Tampa Bay Rays. It has since backed off of those plans.

Republic would lease the land from the Fair Authority. That could help the fairgrounds pay for needed repairs and upgrades to its land and buildings, Fair Authority members said.

If the Fair Authority wants to redevelop its property, it would have to invite other developers to submit proposals. But, Republic Land appears to have a commanding lead.

MacKinnon, the Fair Authority chairman, had been talking with members of Republic Land's team for about a year about its proposed project, according to internal Fair Authority e-mails. Thursday, he prodded his fellow board members to speed up the process.

The Fair Authority's long-range planning committee met to discuss redeveloping the fairgrounds a few hours before the full Fair Authority met. MacKinnon technically isn't a member of the long-range planning committee, but nonetheless made a motion to ask the Populous consulting firm to study the issue.

When it was pointed out that MacKinnon didn't sit on the committee, another committee member quickly made the same motion.

After the meeting, MacKinnon said he supports putting the fairgrounds land much of which sits empty most of the year to better use financially. However, he has no allegiance to any specific developer, he said.

Reporter Michael Sasso can be reached at (813) 259-7865.
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Old June 11th, 2010, 11:25 PM   #32
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Really bad plan imo.
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Old June 18th, 2010, 11:43 AM   #33
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Whats really bad is the amphitheater name was changed to 1 800 ASK GARY amphitheater!
Now you have a huge confederate flag and that to welcome you to Tampa!
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Old June 18th, 2010, 03:58 PM   #34
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Yeah, I agree. I'm really sick of ASK GARY. The commericals have been nothing but a nuissance to me and my family. Sometimes my stepfather says "just open up the phonebook!"
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Old June 18th, 2010, 05:51 PM   #35
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This is Tampa most people here are too lazy or dare I say uneducated to do that.
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Old June 20th, 2010, 09:52 PM   #36
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Oh, but of course. Which makes all this even more crazy :P
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Old June 21st, 2010, 04:24 AM   #37
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I always thought the original ask gary commercial with Roz was Racist as hell, I mean the chic had a gold tooth and said shit like "Don't be scurred and confused" ...I must not have been the only person to find that offensive being the new spots with her are a lot more toned down and she not speaking with an overly stereotypical "Ghetto" accent.
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Old June 21st, 2010, 07:33 AM   #38
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Any commercial with that "Roz" lady annoys me. when I hear her say, "Roz got a question", I just say to myself, "Roz can shut up"
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Old August 8th, 2010, 12:26 AM   #39
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Board seeks ideas for fairgrounds land
By Shelley Rossetter, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Thursday, August 5, 2010

TAMPA The Florida State Fair Authority took a significant step Wednesday toward development at the Florida State Fairgrounds near Tampa.

Board members voted to seek development proposals for "underused" property at the publicly owned, 330-acre site near U.S. 301 and Interstate 4. The vote came with a caveat: The development proposals can't compromise current fair activities or long-range plans for the fairgrounds.

The action was approved by a voice vote, with board member Charles Bronson abstaining. Bronson, the state's agriculture commissioner, said he abstained because he believes the issue should go before the state Cabinet before any decisions are made. The current Cabinet members are Bronson, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Attorney General Bill McCollum.

Issuing the development request could take some time, said Charles Pesano, the Fair Authority's executive director. But the board is ready to see what kind of ideas that development groups have, said board chairman A.D. "Sandy" MacKinnon.

Discussions about underused property at the fairgrounds have swirled for months.

Former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco has pitched a prospective development that could include a baseball stadium if the Tampa Bay Rays leave St. Petersburg. Earlier this summer, the Fair Authority board agreed to hire a consultant to study all of the buildings, fields, roads, facilities and events it needs to stay viable.

The authority anticipates losing about $1.4 million this year, but expects to have about $3.4 million in reserves. Worried that one more bad year for the state fair could eat into those savings, board members have said the fairgrounds needs to add commercial business partnerships.

Greco has called the site the potential "next Disney" and said it could be a showcase for the community. His group, which includes Republic Land Development of Fairfax, Va., has been laying groundwork for development plans for more than a year.

In April, Greco's group outlined a plan for hotels, restaurants, shops and a sports complex on about half the fairgrounds acreage.
http://www.tampabay.com/news/growth/...s-land/1113058
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Old August 8th, 2010, 03:07 AM   #40
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Haha!! "Potential Disney" I like the enthusiasm but wishful thinking or dreaming at best.
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