UPS Pilot wrote:
Tampa is always going to be mid level airport. The city does not have the demand as Orlando and Miami. There is not much business' headquartered there. The sports teams are not very good so they don't draw out of town travelers to see games. The only amusement park is Busch Gardens which is right in the ghetto. The only thing that Tampa has going for it is it's the largest airport on the West Coast of Florida beaches. With is being an hour drive from Orlando, it will never have the presence that MCO or Miami has.
Why, someone sure doesn't like Tampa! That's unfortunate, but if you were to do some simple research, you would find that the facts disagree with most of your statements.
Although Tampa won't be surpassing Orlando or Miami for tourism demand (and certainly not Miami for business), I don't think the Tampa Bay area's nor TPA's growth is contingent upon surpassing Orlando's travel demand. And implying that Miami hinders Tampa's ability to grow would be like saying New York City hinder's Boston's ability to grow. Tampa is 4 hours away from Miami; they're not remotely close to being the same market.
When it comes to business and economic output, Tampa Bay's GDP is larger than the Orlando MSA's GDP, and there are more Fortune 500 and 1000 companies headquartered in Tampa than than there are in Orlando. Also, the Tampa Bay area's population is roughly 25% larger than that of Orlando and growing at a faster pace. So to say TPA won't grow because it doesn't have the business demand is inaccurate and directly opposed to the reason flights were recently announced and started to SAN and SFO.
As for local sports teams, if you lived in Tampa, you would know that one of the problems that plague Tampa's sports franchises is the number of snowbirds and out-of-town sports fans that come to Tampa to see their team play for a much cheaper price in better weather. When it comes to local attractions, Tampa is not limited to building amusement parks; St Petersburg and Clearwater have some of the best beaches in the world, not just the United States, and if you drive 30 minutes north or south, you can be in state park with natural springs, wildlife, and outdoor activities. And, as a roller coaster and thrill ride enthusiast, Busch Gardens has Disney and Universal covered; they just don't have any special intellectual property (Mickey Mouse, Star Wars, movie themes, etc.)
So if TPA is already drawing 19 million passengers a year without being a focus city or hub for a major carrier, and the area is continuing to grow, why wouldn't you think TPA would ever be more than a mid-level airport? And what constitutes a mid-level airport? Baring another financial meltdown, I don't think there's any doubt that the Tampa Bay area will grow at a rapid pace (along with Florida as a whole), and at the very least, TPA will reflect the growth of the area. More likely, I think the leadership at TPA will continue to push for new or expanded service and lessen the leak of passengers to MCO. And, as many others have stated, Tampa and Orlando compliment each other; both markets and airports can continue to grow. This isn't an A vs B situation.