Tampa Bay Center

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Tampa Bay Center

The Tampa Bay Center was a shopping mall located in Tampa, Florida, across the street from Tampa Stadium. The mall was developed by The Rouse Company.[1] When it opened on August 5, 1976 the 877,000-square-foot (81,500 m2) Tampa Bay Center was Tampa's fourth major mall and operated until 2001, when most of its tenants relocated to the nearby International Plaza. The mall was a two-story building that had an anchor at each end, plus one in the center of the mall: Burdines on the east side, Montgomery Ward in the center, and Sears on the west side.


Tampa Bay Center's main corridor was splashed in sunlight, a large portion of the roof was actually constructed with skylights; a bright and sunny day outdoors meant a bright and sunny day indoors considered to be an inviting feature at a time when many malls were being built with dropped ceilings and finished with darker colors. The mall featured exposed, light-colored truss ceilings over the main corridor, tan-brown floor tiles, floor-based water fountains, and trees intermittently planted on the bottom floor of the main corridor, growing upwards toward the skylights. The open-and-airy interior was further augmented by what was thought to be one of the mall's most important trademarks, a glass elevator located in the center of the mall. The North Side parking lot had an unusual-for-flat-central-Florida slope to it that meant that the mall entrance on that side of the building was on the second floor, leading directly into the food court, which opened in 1987.[2]

In the 1990s, the mall's center court featured a 1922 Herschell-Spillman carousel with carved wooden horses, with the oldest horse carved in 1880. Discovered in a West Tampa warehouse by Lynne Beckett and Tommy Sciortino, the couple invested $100,000 into its restoration. The carousel's Wurlitzer band organ was replaced with taped music, and its canvas top was removed so shoppers upstairs could see in.[3]


The mall featured a cinema with two screens from the beginning until it closed on February 28, 1990. The final movies shown were Roger & Me and Stella.

Montgomery Ward[edit]

Due to the success of the mall, a third anchor, Montgomery Ward was proposed in November 1977. It opened by 1979 on the south side of the mall.

Decline and closure[edit]

In 1994 the mall's management was accused of racism for closing early during the Florida Classic college football game between FAMU and Bethune Cookman, both historically black universities. Then Montgomery Ward was closed in 1999, and the Burdines followed soon afterwards, moving to the new Citrus Park Town Center mall northwest of Tampa. Tampa Bay Center hung on with only Sears, but then International Plaza opened nearby in 2001. International Plaza had lured Dillard's away from WestShore Plaza, and in early 2002, Sears moved into the old Dillard's location. Tampa Bay Center closed entirely after that.

New owner and demolition[edit]

The mall was acquired by Malcolm Glazer and his family for $22.8-million in cash on December 31, 2002 to make way for a training facility for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.[4] It was demolished in 2005. The only remnants of the mall are the large sections of parking lots. The HARTline bus terminal was relocated to the southwest section of the property in 2007, known as the West Tampa Transfer Center.

Former anchor stores[edit]



  1. ^ http://www.labelscar.com/florida/tampa-bay-center
  2. ^ Tampabay: Glazer paid $22.8-million for mall
  3. ^ Albright, Mark (April 8, 1992). "1922 carousel comes full circle". St. Petersburg Times (pp. E1-E2).
  4. ^ Glazer paid $22.8-million for the mall, Jeff Testerman, St. Petersburg Times, January 18, 2003
  5. ^ [1] The History of Tampa Bay Center, Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez

Coordinates: 27°58′44″N 82°29′54″W / 27.9790°N 82.4984°W / 27.9790; -82.4984