Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa Announces Expansion

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa Set for Expansion Project

 

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa is beginning an expansion will begin an expansion project that will create new jobs and add additional parking, gaming, and amenities to the resort.

According to Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa President John Fontana, the property will construct an additional parking garage located off of Orient Road, which will provide 750 new parking spaces. Also, a 30,000-square-foot premium gaming area featuring upscale games will be added, along with a new 50 table state of the art poker room, increased amenities including an upscale restaurant and a new, expanded porte-cochere.

“This expansion project will create over 100 new permanent jobs at the casino and keep hundreds of Tampa Bay Area construction workers busy for the next year,” said Fontana. “These new additions to the property will clearly enhance the guest experience and attract more tourists from around the country.”

This will be the third major expansion for the property and is the next step in the overall master plan. The most recent came in 2012, a $75 million project which made Seminole Hard Rock Tampa the world’s sixth largest casino.

 Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Logo

About Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa is the premier entertainment destination of Central Florida. Owned and operated by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the property is one of the most successful and largest casinos in the world. Located off I-4 at North Orient Road and Hillsborough Avenue, about 10 minutes east of downtown Tampa, the casino features high stakes table games, thousands of the hottest slot machines as well as a new smoke free slots area offering 250 popular games. The hotel is AAA Four Diamond rated and offers seven award-winning Zagat-rated restaurants, including the fine dining venues Council Oak Steaks & Seafood and Grey Salt. A newly renovated Rock Spa® is also available along with a plethora of VIP services. For more information, please call 866-502-PLAY or visit us online and via FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

Visiting the Straz Center

Straz
Straz Center exterior

This past weekend I took a tour of the Straz Center in Tampa with our friend Shane. We’ve discussed looking into subscriptions to the Broadway series at several venues in the central Florida area for the upcoming 2015-2016 season. Before we decide on tickets for individual shows or packages, we wanted to visit the Straz Center since neither of us had been there before and they are offering a variety of shows that differ from Orlando.

Being that we are both big fans of musical theater in particular, Shane and I were very excited to take an hour to tour the Straz Center and see the fantastic facilities. I did not know prior to arriving that the Straz Center is one of the largest performing arts center in the southeast. According to our tour guide, Debbie (a real life retired rocket scientist by the way), Straz has the greatest number of seats combined between the five theaters south of Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center, but not necessarily the largest individual theater or greatest square footage. The theaters range in size from being able to accommodate just 130 in the blackbox Shimberg Playhouse, to the 268 seat Jaeb Theater with cabaret seating, to 1,042 in Ferguson Hall, all the way up to 2,610 in Carol Morsani Hall. On our tour we were able to see each of these four venues, as well as the Rehearsal Hall and several backstage areas. The only theater we did not see due to ongoing setup and rehearsals at the time was the TECO Theater that is a 3,500 square foot open space with no permanent seating or stage, offering versatility in capacity and configuration.

Shimberg Playhouse
Shimberg Playhouse
Jaeb Theater
Jaeb Theater
Ferguson Hall
Ferguson Hall
Carol Morsani Hall from the balcony
Carol Morsani Hall from the balcony
Rehearsal Hall
Rehearsal Hall

The Straz Center has a beautiful location situated in downtown Tampa right on the Hillsborough River with indoor and outdoor facilities for dining and events. A variety of shows ranging from Broadway hits like Newsies and Once can be seen here, as well as opera, dance, stand up acts, to shows like MythBusters – Jamie & Adam Unleashed! There are several dining options on the complex including Maestro’s Restaurant for dinner on nights of Broadway shows and select other performances. Maestro’s Cafe is a buffet also open on Broadway show nights and is in the lobby of the Carol Morsani Hall. Maestro’s On The River offers outdoor seating with quick bites and beverages along the river. If you’re looking for a pastry, sandwich, salad, or just a good dose of caffeine, SteamHeat Cafe is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9am until 11pm.

Carol Morsani Hall lobby
Carol Morsani Hall lobby

Parking for the Straz Center can be found in public lots and garages within a few minutes walk if you wish to self park. These range in price from approximately $5-10, valet parking is available for around $20 as well. There are also limited spaces available on the street, which are metered during the day and free after 6pm. The Straz Center is conveniently located just off of 275 and Ashley Drive in Tampa, making it very accessible from I4, 75, or 275.

Carol Morsani Hall view from the stage
Carol Morsani Hall view from the stage

My favorite part of the tour was going on stage in the Morsani Hall. The sheer size of the stage was amazing! It was so cool to be able to look out to all the seats and to imagine yourself performing in front of a full house. Shane and I were both impressed by the ginormous loading doors to backstage which can open to accommodate four semis full of sets and costumes. These door must have been a good 60 feet tall at least. Backstage there is a really cool wall with stencils from many of the shows that have been performed at the Straz Center. I would love to have something like this in artwork form in my house!

If you get a chance, I highly recommend checking out the amazing Straz Center in Tampa. I cannot wait to catch my first show here. Shane already saw his this past weekend and is also looking forward to returning. Have you been to the Straz Center? What did you see there? If not, check out their upcoming schedule and I’m sure there is something for everyone between the concerts, plays and performances.

Loading doors
Loading doors

 

Stencil wall
Stencil wall

GlowBash 5K Tampa Race Recap

GlowBash race shirt & bibThis past weekend my mom and I participated in the GlowBash 5K in Tampa. This race/scavenger hunt kicks off “race season” for me. I try not to run between April and September as the weather here in Florida is typically ungodly hot and humid. The other six months of the year I attempt to do a race a month. This season is going to be a little different. It started with registering for the Avengers 5K in Disneyland for the second weekend in November back about six months or so ago. Then my mom found a zombie run in Sarasota she thought sounded kind of fun on Groupon. We’ve both decided we’d like to do races, but want to focus on some that are more affordable than the runDisney races tend to be. After researching the fact the race was a little more off road than either one of us wanted to deal with since we’ve both had knee surgeries, I found a Living Social coupon for the GlowBash.

The race is typically around eighty dollars per person with a t-shirt, post race refreshments, some glow paraphernalia, and a finisher’s medal. We looked at the GlowBash website and learned it was more of a scavenger hunt around downtown Tampa than a traditional race, and this appealed to my mom. So after finding the deal for half off the race, we registered and then tried to find out more about the race. Not much information was out there as far as race recaps, other than one from several years ago, but it ended up being a bit different.

Packet pickup was the two days prior to the race at two Sports Authority locations in the Tampa area. Any team member could pickup the packets with either a copy of the other teammate’s photo ids or a picture of their ids on a smartphone. This made it relatively easy for one person to get the whole team’s packets and t-shirts instead of each individual having to go. The day of the race an email was sent out from GlowBash warning that there was a Tampa Bay Lightning preseason hockey game at the old Ice Palace (I never can keep up with the changing sponsorship names, so forgive me, it is still the Ice Palace), and that there was a possibility of rain, so come early.

Living about an hour away in Bradenton, we decided to leave at 5pm, two hours prior to the race start so we would have plenty of time to find a paid parking spot with race participants now competing with hockey fans for limited space downtown. We arrived at Ferg’s Live, the bar sponsoring the race, right about 6pm, and splurged for parking paying $20 to literally park next door to the start and finish line for the race. This made life so much easier when we were done, it was well worth the price. We could have showed up about half an hour later, but it was fine getting there early since the weather was actually quite nice. The rain held out, the temps dropped into the mid 70s and there was a gorgeous breeze making it one of the nicest evenings in months weatherwise.

About five minutes before start time, each team captain went to the announcer’s table to pick up the race clues for the scavenger hunt. We were instructed not to look at them and were told we would have two hours to complete 10 out of the 11 clues and come back with proof. Some clues required we take pictures, others we had to get a stamp, a coupon, or a wristband from certain locations all over downtown Tampa. We were warned we were not able to used any motorized mode of transportation. Foot travel only was permitted, and we had to adhere to any traffic laws, meaning no jaywalking and only crossing on the walk signal. This proved to be quite interesting, but also provided a nice rest sometimes in between spots.

Photo Oct 04, 6 15 27 PMPhoto Oct 04, 6 40 46 PM

At 7pm we were on our way! Since neither of us was in any shape to train recently, we both decided before the race we were not running at all, only walking. We had some experience in the race/scavenger hunt area since we had both done runDisney’s Expedition Everest Challenge before, so at least it wasn’t completely foreign to us. Mom had done some homework, looking at maps and points of interest of Tampa that afternoon, and I used my Google Fu as smartphone use was strongly encouraged, as was the use of GPS and maps. We figured out all the clues first, then decided to map out the locations and go in an order that made sense geographically because we had been told the course could be anywhere from 3 to 7 miles depending on the order in which you did the clues. We were not doing seven miles.

Photo Oct 04, 6 54 16 PMPhoto Oct 08, 8 41 25 PMPhoto Oct 04, 6 59 26 PMPhoto Oct 04, 7 03 53 PMPhoto Oct 04, 7 19 21 PMPhoto Oct 04, 7 20 19 PM (1)Photo Oct 04, 7 25 45 PMPhoto Oct 04, 7 48 41 PMPhoto Oct 04, 8 05 13 PMPhoto Oct 04, 8 07 24 PM (1)Photo Oct 04, 8 30 21 PMPhoto Oct 08, 9 34 51 PM

We were unsure of the location of one of the clues exactly, but found that talking to people as we were going around the course helped. Contestants were helping each other with clues and even asking strangers on the street. Part of the scavenger hunt required you to talk to strangers. We even had to quack like a duck for one of the clues. It was a lot of fun, but we were honestly worried at first we wouldn’t finish in the allotted time. We ended up finishing the race in about an hour and a half and exactly at 3.1 miles, so we were happy considering at least half an hour of that was waiting for traffic lights and crosswalks. Mom really enjoyed it and she said it was even more fun than a regular race because it didn’t feel like a race just running in a big circle looking a the same thing.

Photo Oct 04, 8 39 47 PMPhoto Oct 04, 8 44 24 PM

As the name indicates, GlowBash is in the evening with glow necklaces, bracelets, glasses, etc. for the participants to wear, which was cool to see at night all around the city. Folks in Tampa were entertained by us and supportive of us at the same time. There were no road closures or anything, so almost the whole race was completed on sidewalks and crosswalks. It was a different, but fun way to get out, get some exercise and see the city. There’s another one coming up in St. Pete in the spring, and I think we may check that one out too. Have you ever done a scavenger race or other non-traditional race like GlowBash? What were your thoughts?