Long-term sustainability by Eric Hart, Head of Tampa Sports Authority

One of the keynote sessions focused on stadium lifecycle. An introduction was provided by Dimitri Huygen, Managing Director ESSMA, followed by presentations from Martin Murphy, Stadium Director Aviva Stadium and Eric Hart, Head of Tampa Sports Authority managing Raymond James Stadium.


Eric Hart focused his presentation on long-term sustainability within several stadium projects in Tampa Bay area.

Tampa Sports Authority (TSA) manages Raymond James Stadium (host of the Super Bowl 55), home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the University of South Florida Bulls, and three City of Tampa municipal golf courses:  Rocky Point, Babe Zaharias and Rogers Park. Furthermore, they also serve as landlord for the Tampa Bay Times Forum, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Steinbrenner Field, home for the New York Yankees spring training facilities. 

Venue design

When renovating Raymond James Stadium, the design had to be: flexible, practical, revenue-generating, delivering an enhanced infrastructure, and creating a unique venue.

Capacity65,000 (expandable to 75,000)
Renovation investment$170 million

Related to venue design, there are several keys for success:

  • Corporate support is vital (aim for sponsorship deals of 30-years);
  • Ability to fill seats (take all events into consideration);
  • Offering an enhanced guest experience at your venue which can be achieved by having added and well-trained staff, a texting system, offering online ordering, large video boards with live tweets running on the Red Zone, etc.;
  • Flexibility e.g. the Hall of Fame club can be used for a variety of events in a different number of ways, and is rentable 100 days a year;
  • Needs and desires of your tenants, their fans and your wider audience. 

Revenue enhancement 

Revenue enhancement has been a very important aspect in the renovation and venue design process of Raymond James Stadium. To cover the renovations cost and achieve long-term success, Tampa Sports Authority implemented:

  • Increased ticket prices by upgrading areas and adding value to it, while battling with fans watching from home;
  • Increased spending per seat by offering a quicker service, higher value, and a better selection of F&B;
  • More revenue options and offerings for all ticket prices (from the lowest prices tickets to VIP);
  • New revenue options by adding bar areas for the lowest priced tickets;
  • Hosting more events e.g. Super Bowl 55, concerts and Supercross. They are actively bidding for all types of sporting and non-sporting events for additional revenue streams;
  • Added customer service value e.g. a $5 million investment on Wi-Fi and 4G capabilities.

Long term planning 

According to Hart, another important aspect is the long-term planning of your venue. First of all, it is essential to have multiple revenue sources. Furthermore, attaching mixed-use development could be important on the long run. For example with the latest redevelopment of Amalie Arena, the venue has been tied to the larger Water district with housing, retail and entertainment projects. In total $3 billion has been invested in the area around Amalie Arena with the venue as core of the district. Thirdly, when (re)designing your venue, the community has to be involved and provide input on the designs to create a long-standing relationship. Moreover, sometimes it is necessary to take strategic risks. For example at Raymond James Stadium $49 million has been spent on A/V to enhance fan experience to follow the needs of their fans. Lastly, when making a capital planning, improvements and upgrades on the long term need to be integrated. Raymond James Stadium for example has been built for $170 million and recently a $150 million has been invested in renovations.

Based on his experience with Raymond James Stadium and Amalie Arena, Eric Hart concluded that the long term success factors of similar renovation projects are:

  • Flexible design: use the core building and don’t tear down major sections but reallocate and repurpose your venue
  • Modify your venue to meet the changing needs of your customer base e.g. more standing rooms, bar areas, etc.
  • Being able to adjust your venue for major events e.g. increase capacity for Super Bowls

Interview with Eric Hart about his presentation about long-term sustainability at Tampa Sports Authority:


Go to our ESSMA Flickr account for more pictures.

Access his Summit presentation on the ESSMA Knowledge Platform

The recorded version of Eric Hart's presentation can be found on the Knowledge Platform. Furthermore, all presentations of the ESSMA Summit are available on the Knowledge Platform. The ESSMA Knowledge Platform is only available for ESSMA members. If you have not received your login, contact communications@essma.eu.