Thriving Tampa Convention Center finishes major expansion

Opened in 1990, the Tampa Convention Center was an early catalyst in reenergizing downtown.

As high-rise apartment and condo towers, office buildings and a slew of restaurants and bars reshape the heart of downtown, the long-time institution along the Hillsborough River just finished a redevelopment project of its own, the largest expansion and renovation in its history. 

Finished at the end of June, the $38 million second and final phase of the project renovates the building facade and existing meeting rooms and adds 18,000 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 river. 

The Tampa Convention Center expansion added 18 meeting rooms overlooking the Hillsborough River. "It's a beautiful view," says Kirstin Albert, the communications coordinator for the convention center.“It’s a beautiful view,” says Kirstin Albert, the communications coordinator for the city-owned convention center. “This expansion will really help attract all different kinds of conventions and conferences. It will help retain existing clients and attract new clients. It adds an extra element to be able to have portions of their events in these new rooms. They can expand into these new rooms, whether it’s meetings, receptions, galas or networking events.” 

The second phase of the project also upgraded the Tampa Riverwalk in front of the convention center. Skanska USA was in charge of construction and Baker Barrios Architects led the design team.

The renovation and expansion project began in November 2021 and the convention center remained open throughout the project. In a press release, Skanska USA says, with limited storage space on site and the convention center in operation, the company took advantage of the waterfront location and used floating platforms to store and transport more than 700 pieces of structural steel to the project site.

The expansion wraps up as business is booming at the convention center. METROCON, the state’s largest anime convention, was in town from July 11th to 14th. In an interview before the event, Albert says the event is expected to draw a crowd of nearly 14,000. At the end of the month, the Tampa Bay Comic Convention returns 

Albert says this is the busiest summer in the convention center’s history and more business for the convention center means more business for the city's restaurants and hotels. The Tampa Convention Center is also a finalist for Best Convention Center in the Southeast in the industry’s Stella Awards. Albert says the winner will be announced in October.

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.