When the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa started announcing major numbers for their new concert hall, I assumed there were probably 5 or 6,000 seats. Maybe like a bigger Ruth Eckerd Hall or the USF Yuengling Center. Shortly after it opened, the pandemic struck which put an end to concert tours around the world.
It was a solo show last month by Vince Neil from Motley Crue that ultimately led me to discover the new place. I was looking forward to the stadium tour with Poison, Def Leppard and Crue – but this tour has kept getting postponed due to COVID-19. I thought seeing Vince in a place with only 5,000 seats would be pretty neat too. I had only seen Flood shows in large arenas.
When I walked in the Hard Rock Event Center, my jaw dropped. This place was not the small arena I expected. It really was just a big ballroom. I’m told some shows have floor seats, but for Vince Neil’s concert it was general admission standing on the floor with sets of raised seats in the back. There are no “nosebleed” seats. The up-close concert experience you get with artists who normally perform in front of 10-15,000 people is quite unique. The acoustics were great. Plus, it’s easy to find free parking and grab a bite to eat before or after the show. It really is a fun night for a gig with a lot less stress.
If you haven’t had the chance to experience the new place, it’s no surprise. Only a handful of acts have had the chance to take the stage thanks to COVID. But now that we’re starting to turn the corner and the gigs are coming back, I’d definitely check this list to see if there’s one act you want to see because you won’t see a lot of them playing in such intimate venues.
November 9: ZZ Top (Out of print)
November 11: Larry the Cable Guy
December 1: Trace Adkins
December 5: Tony Orlando Christmas Show
December 19: Ron White
January 7: .38 special
January 16: Keith Sweat
February 17: TLC
February 19: George Thorogood
February 24: Foghat
February 27: The Whispers
March 10: Howie Mandel
March 20: Wayne Newton
April 10: Ben folds
May 8: La Stylistique
September 18: Alicia Keys
Learn more about the Hard Rock Event Center (1:03) on the Discover Tampa Bay in 10 minutes or less Podcast. Prepare for peak travel season at Tampa International Airport (3:38 am) and explore healthy fast food options (6:35 am).
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