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Tampa, Florida -- For decades, collegiate rowing teams have left their marks with graffiti on the seawall of the Hillsborough River in downtown.

But, the tradition is ending. The City Council voted unanimously on Thursday night to have the graffiti removed to make way for an artistic, river lighting system.

"I think it would be bad idea. It would take away the culture of our city and it's a reflection of our student, and I think many people appreciate it," said University of Tampa student Andrea Matamoros.

BACKGROUND:Graffiti's future in question

Anger blew up on Facebook and some of the comments aimed at the city were less than flattering, but Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says the city is building a world class riverfront.

"We want a blank pallet, if you will, to do a very creative, very dynamic, interactive lights on project," said Buckhorn.

Buckhorn had lots of support, surprisingly from members of Tampa's rowing community including Tom Feaster, president of the Steward's Foundation.

Tampa is getting rid of the rowers' graffiti to make room for a new lighting installation.

Feater says Tampa rowing is respected the world over, even producing the eight-member team that went to the Olympics in Beijing. It's about the sport, not the paint.

NEXT:Check out the plan for the lighting project

"Those eight trained here in Tampa, and they were thrilled to death, they had one of the best experiences for training. So one of these kids could go to the Olympics too, and it all comes out of Tampa," said Feaster.

Like or hate it the changes, big cities are defined by big projects, and the mayor says that's exactly what the new riverwalk will be.

"I think it's a small price to pay to showcase one of the things that makes Tampa great," said Buckhorn.

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