The Tampa Tribune: “Team, business and government leaders were ecstatic announcing plans for the site of the $110 million hockey arena.”
Excerpt from The Tampa Tribune, November 24, 1993
TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Lightning’s dizzying three-year odyssey in search of a permanent home ended Tuesday with a decision to build a $110 million arena downtown, where civic leaders predict a renaissance in Tampa’s listless business district.
Lightning Governor David LeFevre said construction will begin on the arena by March 1994. Completion should take 17 months, putting the team in its new home by the start of the 1995-96 National Hockey League season, LeFevre said.
Lightning officials, 13 days behind their own timetable to choose between two arena sites in Hillsborough County, bargained with city and business leaders Tuesday to weave the final pieces of a complex public-private project.
LeFevre said the team drafted two news releases: one announcing a decision for downtown, the other to build on Tampa Sports Authority land adjacent to Tampa Stadium.
The last major obstacle, land acquisition at a price acceptable to the Lightning, was cleared when Harbour Island owner Finn Casperson bought the final parcel, then gave the Lightning an option to purchase the property.
The team will initially purchase 6 acres and has options on an additional 12 acres.
LeFevre also haggled with Mayor Sandy Freedman and her staff for hours Tuesday on a plan to guarantee the team $1 million or more a year in parking money from city garages.
“People said it could not be done and we did it,” said a jubilant Hillsborough County Commissioner Ed Turanchik, who has pursued a downtown arena for two years.
When LeFevre made the announcement at 5:15 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Tampa, flanked by Turanchik and Freedman, applause rippled through the room full of downtown business leaders and politicians.
LeFevre said the Lightning decided to build downtown instead of on Dale Mabry Highway because the team believes the city’s core has the best long-range development potential. The team has plans for retail development springing up on land surrounding the arena.
The arena will be constructed to specifications of the National Basketball Association in anticipation of landing a franchise. The arena will hold 21,500 fans for basketball and 20,000 for hockey.