Tropical Heatwave features expanded stage

Cuban Club expands courtyard event

The 33rd annual Tropical Heatwave concert series at the Cuban Club has a new look, featuring a remodeled courtyard that will double capacity of the outdoor concert.  

The old bandshell, built in 1946, has been demolished, along with a wall that lined an alley dividing the Cuban Club with El Paraje, another historic building just to the south.

"It was not a great stage for bands.  It was echoy and small," said Randy Wynne, program director at the event's main sponsor, WMNF 88.5 Community Radio.  "Now it's one big venue.  It's one big courtyard."

It's the first renovation to the courtyard at the Cuban Club since the original bandshell addition, and the building's foundation is hoping it leads to bigger and better events.

"This is kind of something we have to do," said Patrick Manteiga, Cuban Club Board president.  ""We got into the concert business not because we want to, but it's a place we think we can make some money for the building."

Even vendors have been shifted under the new arrangement.

Instead of being placed on the streets lining the building in Ybor City, they've been moved closer to the stage in the courtyard.

"It's going to be amazing for us vendors because we're centrally located instead of being in the street," said Gregory Johnson, a Hawaii based natural soap retailer.  "More people are going to be in here at the event so I think it's going to really be profitable for all of us."

The Tropical Heatwave show runs from Friday evening until Saturday night.

Nearly 60 different bands on several stages are planned over the two day event.

Tickets are $40 online, and $50 at the door.

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