Tampa Bay Wants Super Bowl

Tampa and Miami will make a bid for the 2015 Super Bowl. It’s not just up to the city though, they will have to receive an invitation from the NFL to be among places considered for the game. Given the balmy climate and tourist friendly atmosphere, that shouldn’t be a problem. Tampa Bay was a  strong contender for 2014, but lost to New York – the first cold weather venue in a an open stadium for the Super Bowl, who was favored because they will play in a new stadium. We’ll have to see how that works out. Maybe they’ll have the kinks worked out of their snow plow brigade by then.

Florida has hosted more Super Bowl games than any other state, the longest it has gone without hosting is 4 years. So, odds are good for 2015. Tampa has hosted 4 times, and Miami has hosted 10 times.

Hi Speed Rail Line Work Begins

Engineers have begun testing the soil along I-4 between Tampa and Orlando to prepare the ground for the high speed tracks in 2012. Workers are also surveying, doing real estate estimates, appraisals and property searches. The state owns 93% of the land needed, the other 7% will need to be acquired through willing sellers or eminent domain. Most of the land is located along the I-4 corridor.

Florida is slated to receive $1.25 billion in stimulus funds for the project and additional federal funds were promised in the future. Construction of the project will add 5,000 jobs each year, with 11,000 jobs at the height of construction. A future link between Orlando and Miami is in the planning stages.

When complete in 2015, it will become the first true high speed rail line in the country that runs on its own dedicated tracks. It will take less than 1 hour to ride between Tampa and Orlando. An estimated 2 million passengers will ride each year. There are 5 planned stops: Downtown at the Old Morgan St. jail, Polk County, Walt Disney World (Disney donated the land for the stop), the Orlando Convention Center and the Orlando International airport. There are no plans for a stop at Tampa International Airport, because it is already part of the proposed light rail plan.

Tampa Port Expansion Planned

A $13.3 million parking garage addition is set to begin at the Port of Tampa in Channelside, and across the channel a $75 million expansion of the container facility has started. The two projects are among many capital improvements at the port this year to accommodate future growth that is expected to follow the 2014 Panama Canal expansion.

Trump Tower Has New Owners

Colonial Bank is now the owner of the vacant 1.5 acre property in downtown Tampa that was scheduled to become Trump Tower Tampa.

On June 24th a Hillsborough County Circuit Court Judge awarded Colonial Bank more than $5 million from SimDag/RoBEL LLC and other defendants involved in the failed 52-story luxury condominium project.

SimDag/RoBEL bought the land for $16 million in 2004 and planned a $300 million luxury condo tower. In 2005 a deal was signed with Donald Trump to use the Trump name. Foundation work and groundbreaking began in 2007, but financing was never secured and SimDag/RoBel filed for Chapter 11 in June 2008, forcing Colonial Bank to foreclose.

Trump sued the developers for over $1 million claiming breach of contract and later settled with SimDag for an undisclosed sum.

Tampa Bay Light Rail Transit System Approved

Transportation planners voted to approve a plan that would build a light rail and express bus service around Tampa Bay. The plan includes more than 100 miles of light rail lines and more than 400 miles of bus service by 2035. It would continue to grow by the year 2050, ultimately connecting seven counties and 43 cities.

Organizers anticipate that federal money will cover most of the cost, but at least a portion will be covered by a local sales tax increase, or other means. The first priority is expected to connect a light rail from the University of South Florida area to downtown Tampa.

Tampa Hard Rock Plans Major Expansion

In this tough economy, gambling seems to be doing well. The Seminole Tribe of Florida, owner of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa, plans to spend $600- to $800-million on the expansion. Plans include a new 22 story hotel tower with up to 1,000 rooms, 3 times the current capacity. Plans also call for 50,000 square feet of meeting and convention space, 6 restaurants, new parking garage, more gambling space, 3 new pools and a 1,500 to 2,000 seat music venue. Work is scheduled to begin at the end of the year.