Tourism officials say Tampa Convention Center expansion will be worth the cost

If you run, walk, or bike around the Tampa Convention Center, get ready for a detour. More than 400 feet of the Riverwalk will be closed for a big renovation of the convention center.

The detour is scheduled to continue through November of 2022 while the convention center undergoes its largest expansion in its 31-year history.

Artists’ renderings show huge glass walls that open the convention center to sweeping views of the water.

Via City of Tampa

"You get a return on investment every time you invest in that center," said Santiago Corrada, president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay. "We’re out there selling the heck out of it."

Corrada markets the area as a destination for meetings and conventions. He’s already showing prospects the artists renderings of 18 new waterfront meeting rooms, outdoor terraces, and a larger trade show floor.

The convention center will continue to operate while construction is underway.

Materials will come from a barge and crane on the water side.

"It’s a very unusual concept, but it provides the least disturbance to our clients that are already renting space in the facility," says Una Garvey, convention center and tourism director.

Via City of Tampa

With the new J.W. Marriott and others, Tampa added 2,300 hotel rooms during the pandemic. With pent-up demand, promoters say they can fill all the new space they can get.

"Next summer, we are full of chock full of conventions and groups coming that are going to be utilizing that center," continued Corrada. "And that means more money for our community."

The price tag of the renovation is $38 million. Part of it is funded through the tourist development tax collected by Hillsborough County which is matched by the city. 

Via City of Tampa