Downtown Tampa tidbits: DASH debut, soccer stadium, Convention Center honor

The Tampa Downtown Partnership’s DASH (Downtown Area Shared Hubs) shared ride service hit the road at noon on Thursday, October 12th.

DASH offers $2 per passenger rides around downtown in a bright yellow all-electric Tesla Model Y. Passengers schedule rides via a smartphone app. DASH travels between 20 hub locations spread across downtown neighborhoods. 

“They are evenly spaced throughout the neighborhoods so each neighborhood is represented with a hub,” Tampa Downtown Partnership Director of Public Space Operations & Programming Rachel Radawec says during the organization’s October 11th Downtown Debriefing event. “And it’s an enjoyable walk to all of them. You’re not going to be hiking it halfway across downtown to get to your hub or be dropped off far from your destination.”

DASH debuts approximately two-and-a-half years after the Downtowner, a popular, free, ride-share service managed by the Partnership, ceased operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.   

“It went away during COVID but it was very innovative,” Downtown Partnership Senior Director of Transportation & Planning Karen Kress says during the Downtown Debriefing event.

The Downtowner carried approximately 500 passengers daily, with average wait times of around 17 minutes, although peak wait times could stretch past 45 minutes.

While the Downtowner was operated by a contracted company, the Partnership will operate DASH in-house. The driver-ambassadors are Partnership employees. Instead of free, point-to-point trips, DASH offers low-cost $2 per person trips between hubs. 

It’s also intended to complement existing transit options. That may mean a push notification on a user’s mobile app saying the free TECO Line Streetcar may be a better option for them. It also means free fares for passengers going to catch a bus or coming from a bus at the Marion Transit Center.

DASH runs from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday. The “DASH Tampa” smartphone app is available to download on the Apple App Store on iPhones or the Google Play Store on Android phones.

For more information, go to DASH.

Tampa Bay women’s pro soccer team temporary stadium

Tampa Bay’s women’s pro soccer franchise in the new USL Super League plans to use a waterfront stadium in West Tampa as its temporary home when the league starts play in August 2024.

A rendering of planned improvements to the stadium on the Hillsborough River that the USL Super League Tampa Bay franchise wants to use as a temporary home.Super League Tampa Bay is working on an agreement with Hillsborough County Public Schools to share the stadium on the west side of the Hillsborough River used by Howard W. Blake High School. The team plans to fund expansion and improvements to the stadium, increasing the capacity from 1,800 to approximately 5,000 and installing new FIFA-approved turf. 

“The spirit of competition is very strong in us, but so is the spirit of community,”  Super League Tampa Bay President Christina Unkel says in a press statement. “Our team is ready to deliver a positive impact that benefits families in Tampa Bay, and this partnership would elevate everyone.”

In a press release, team officials say they are talking with officials from Blake about opportunities for students to get involved.

“Potential efforts include empowering music students to create one of the musical chants sung by fans during games, involving TV production students in live game broadcasts, and engaging math and engineering classes in hands-on experiences during the stadium upgrades and, once the team begins play in August 2024, showcasing the math behind sports and business,” the release says.

A proposal from school district staff and the team to establish the partnership is scheduled to go to the Hillsborough County School Board for a vote on October 17th.

For more information, go to USL Super League Tampa Bay.

Tampa Convention Center named best in Southeast

The Tampa Convention Center has won the gold medal as Best Convention Center in the Southeast in the meeting and event industry’s Stella Awards.

“It is truly an honor to be considered the best convention center in this region,” Tampa Convention Center Executive Director David Ingram says in a press release. “The credit goes to our team, made up of the most dedicated event professionals in the industry, and our service partners who go above and beyond to provide outstanding experiences to our clients. We are grateful for the support of local leaders and the Tampa community, which enabled us to reach this level of excellence.”The Tampa Convention Center is the gold medal winner as Best Convention Center in the Southeast in the meeting and event industry's 2023 Stella Awards.

Months ago, the Convention Center was named one of three finalists in its category based on the results of public voting. A panel of industry experts then ranked the finalists as gold, silver and bronze winners.

The honor comes a few months after construction finished on the $38 million second and final phase of an expansion and improvement project that renovated the Convention Center’s facade and existing meeting rooms and added18,000 square feet of space, including 18 new waterfront meeting and event rooms on the third and fourth floors with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Hillsborough River. 

For more information, go to Tampa Convention Center.
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Read more articles by Christopher Curry.

Chris Curry has been a writer for the 83 Degrees Media team since 2017. Chris also served as the development editor for a time before assuming the role of managing editor in May 2022. Chris lives in Clearwater. His professional career includes more than 15 years as a newspaper reporter, primarily in Ocala and Gainesville, before moving back home to the Tampa Bay Area. He enjoys the local music scene, the warm winters and Tampa Bay's abundance of outdoor festivals and events. When he's not working or spending time with family, he can frequently be found hoofing the trails at one of Pinellas County's nature parks.