More than four times the number of people who live in Tampa’s Channel district are expected to attend the Gasparilla International Film Festival at Channelside Bay Plaza next spring.
About 15,000 people are expected to attend the festival, said Ferdian Jap, director of development for the festival. About 3,500 people live in the Channel district. In years past, the festival moved its event around, holding screens in different theaters and parties in different venues. All of the festival’s events will be held in the plaza, Jap said.
He said the festival will likely use three screens for festivals and one theater for an education room Jap said.
The festival was forced out of the movie theater in Ybor Centro, after Carmike Cinemas acquired the theater earlier this year and planned to cut the number of screens in half and use that space for offices, Jap said. He approached Jeff Vinik’s real estate team, Strategic Property Partners, about using the theater in the plaza two months ago. Vinik acquired the ground lease to the property in August.
“All we cared about was having a screen and seating,” Jap said. “If there’s a screen and seating we can make the rest work.”
The festival fits in with SPP’s vision for the property, said Kelsy Pazur, a spokeswoman for Franklin Street in Tampa. SPP has hired Franklin Street oversee the leasing and activation of the bay plaza.
“What we’re trying to do is bring life into the plaza, and this event does just that,” Pazur said.
SPP is a sponsor of the event, Jap said, and will not charge for the use of the facility. But the festival will spend about $5,000 cleaning up the theater, which has been closed for two years. The festival will also pay for a clean-up crew, and will be renting audio equipment — its biggest expense, around $10,000.
“The film festival creates a certain buzz and excitement about the area,” Pazur said. “As far as arts and culture, it makes total sense for us to bring in something like the film festival.”