The riverfront of Downtown Tampa was once crammed with run-down warehouses and half-abandoned railyards. It wasn't a safe place to walk at night, much less see a show.
But in 1987, the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center boldly opened its doors.
Tampa's waterfront may not have even seemed like a viable site for the Tampa Bay Times Forum if the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center had flopped.
But the crowds came, and Downtown Tampa's future was pushed in a powerful new direction.
Now, with a new name and 12 million entertained visitors under its belt, the Straz Center is kicking off its new season on its 25th anniversary.
Tickets for most of theStraz Center 2012-2013 Broadway calendar go on sale Wednesday, including shows like War Horse, Sister Act, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Traces, Green Day's American Idiot, and Anything Goes.
Elf -- The Musical is showing around Thanksgiving, and Mary Poppins will return to the Straz the week after Christmas. Wicked is also coming back to the theater with shows in January.
Two shows that are bound for Broadway will first get their start here in Tampa Bay at the Straz before heading to New York City: Jekyll & Hyde in October, and Flashdance in February.
Founded as the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, the complex was renamed the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in 2009 after the Straz family gave the theater one of the largest philanthropic gifts in Tampa Bay history.