Connect with us


Vintage St. Pete: Concerts at the Bayfront Center Arena

Bill DeYoung



Scorpions at the Bayfront Center Arena, St. Petersburg, July 10, 1984. Photo: Christopher Lee Helton.

As a go-to concert venue, the City-owned Bayfront Center Arena came in with a whimper: Home shows, boat shows, trade shows, sportsman’s shows, bridal shows, conventions, religious crusades, sporting events, ice skating, roller skating, graduation ceremonies  – anything, it seemed, but rock ‘n roll.

It went out pretty much the same way.

The Bayfront Center. Postcard image, 1960s.

The 8,000-seat, five-story arena was dedicated in May, 1965, when St. Petersburg was still considered a retirement town. The entertainment in those early years was sporadic, and standard-issue for “God’s Waiting Room,” as TV comedians often called the city.

Familiar fare was the likes of Liberace, Lawrence Welk, Fred Waring & His Pennsylvanians, symphony orchestras and the twin pianos of Ferrante & Teicher. For families in sleepy St. Pete, Holiday on Ice, the Royal Lipizzaner Stallions and the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus were major events.


In the early 1970s, as the heretofore little-regarded “teen music” morphed into serious cross-country business, promoters took notice of the Bayfront Center, and it quickly became the bay area’s largest concert venue; with only Tampa’s similarly bland Curtis Hixon Hall coming close in the capacity department.

Tampa, however, was slightly ahead of the curve. By ’71, the year the Bayfront Center hosted its first “real” rock shows, Curtis Hixon had already welcomed Jimi Hendrix (twice in 1968 alone), Janis Joplin, Eric Clapton’s Derek & the Dominos, Led Zeppelin, Santana, Creedence Clearwater Revival and James Taylor.

July 29, 1978: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band play for three hours. Photo by Cherie Diez/St. Petersburg Times/ZUMA Press.

The Bayfront Center Arena made up for lost time, and just about every big-ticket rock and pop act on the road made a stop (or two, or three or more) in the fecund, feverish 1970s and ‘80s.

It was big, loud and drafty, and the sound bounced and echoed and was uniformly terrible, but the Bayfront concert experience was a rite of passage for teens and young people growing up and experiencing life in St. Petersburg. The world we’d read about in Rolling Stone, the music we heard on FM radio, it all came right to our door.

In time, better and more comfortable indoor concert venues like the Ice Palace (now known as Amalie Arena), the USF Sun Dome (now known as the Yuengling Center), Ruth Eckerd Hall and even the Lakeland Civic Center stole the music business away from the Bayfront Center. 

Curtis Hixon Hall was demolished in 1993; the Straz Center for the Performing Arts was erected over its bones.

In 1987, the 2,000-seat Bayfront Theatre – part of the Bayfront complex – had been gutted and remodeled and re-named after St. Petersburg’s Mahaffey family. More and more concerts were moved to the smaller, more intimate venue. The attached arena limped through the next decade-and-a-half with a dwindling concert calendar, and dwindling attendance.


Its inelegance led to its obsolescence. At a cost of $1.5 million, the City imploded the creaky old structure on Dec. 1, 2004. The Mahaffey’s entrance was enlarged and closed in. The Dali Museum went up on the far corner of the property.

Today, somewhere near the south side of the Dali – in the vicinity of the gift shop and cafe, most likely – that’s where the Bayfront Center Arena’s concert stage was.

For many, the music, and the memories, still hang in the air.

Were you there?

This list was compiled by cross-referencing ads, event listings, stories and reviews in the Tampa Times, Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times, plus available online databases (several of which were contradictory). Every attempt was made to make this list as accurate as possible, and to exclude concerts that took place at the similarly-named but significantly smaller Bayfront Theatre (aka the Mahaffey Theater).




Bayfront Center Arena concerts


Dec. 11 Dick Clark “Where the Action Is” TV taping, with three local bands



March 6 Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass

April 7 Beach Boys, Lovin’ Spoonful, Chad & Jeremy

May 27 Mamas & Papas


Feb. 11 Beach Boys, Keith, Left Banke, ? and the Mysterians, Electric Prunes

April 13 Paul Revere & the Raiders, Neil Diamond, Keith Allison, Tommy Roe, Billy Joe Royal

July 31 Herman’s Hermits, Blues Magoos, The Who

Nov. 25 Paul Revere & the Raiders

Dec. 10 Chet Atkins, Floyd Cramer, Boots Randolph



April 8 Beach Boys

March 22 Lovin’ Spoonful



March 20 The Turtles, Bubble Puppy


Feb. 6 Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons

Oct. 11 Everly Brothers, Kenny Rogers & the First Edition

Dec. 20 Temptations, Bar-Kays, Carla Thomas



March 4 Black Sabbath, Fleetwood Mac

May 30 Isaac Hayes, Memphis Symphony Orchestra and the Isaac Hayes Singers and Dancers

Oct. 15 Jethro Tull

Nov. 7 Deep Purple, Fleetwood Mac, Daddy Cool

Nov. 19 Carpenters

Nov. 26 Mountain, Procol Harum

Dec. 12 John Mayall, Savoy Brown

Dec. 31 Bob Seger, Teegarden & Van Winkle



March 5 Black Sabbath, Wild Turkey

March 30 Emerson, Lake & Palmer

April 5 Humble Pie, Edgar Winter

April 15 Fleetwood Mac, Savoy Brown, Long John Baldry

May 6 Lee Michaels, Jo Jo Gunne

July 18 Deep Purple, Steppenwolf, Curved Air

Sept. 15 James Gang, Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show

Sept. 20 T. Rex, Doobie Brothers

Sept. 29 Chuck Berry, Brownsville Station

Oct. 13 Roberta Flack

Oct. 15 Ten Years After, Ramatam, Nils Lofgren

Nov. 3 Jethro Tull, Gentle Giant

Nov. 11 Grand Funk Railroad, White Witch

Nov. 26 Elton John, Family

Dec. 10 Uriah Heep, White Trash, Bulldog


Jan. 11 Blood, Sweat & Tears

Feb. 3 Neil Young, Linda Ronstadt

Feb. 3, 1973: Neil Young. Photo by Rick Norcross.

March 22 Engelbert Humperdinck

April 16 Sonny & Cher

June 20 King Crimson

July 15 Isaac Hayes

Aug. 24 Spirit, Focus, Charlie Daniels Band, Jo Jo Gunne

Sept. 15 Rod Stewart & Faces, Rory Gallagher

Sept. 22 Jethro Tull

Sept. 30 Liza Minnelli

Nov. 22 Mahavishnu Orchestra, Argent, Papa John Creach

Nov. 25 Carpenters


March 3 Johnny Winter

March 24 Gregg Allman, Cowboy

April 12 Doobie Brothers

May 5 Savoy Brown, Climax Blues Band, Silverhead

May 17 Seals and Crofts

May 23 Ten Years After

June 8 New York Dolls, Slade, 10CC

June 18 Edgar Winter Group, Styx

July 5 Uriah Heep, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band

July 13 Frank Zappa/Mothers, Tom Waits

Aug. 16 Mountain, Climax Blues Band

Sept. 1 Rory Gallagher

Sept. 20 Marshall Tucker Band, Outlaws, Elvin Bishop Group

Oct. 20 Marvin Gaye

Nov. 16 Jimmy Buffett


Feb. 21 Foghat

March 27 Lynyrd Skynyrd, Charlie Daniels Band

April 6 Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons

April 16 Ray Charles

April 18 Nektar

May 4 The Kinks, Bob Seger, Wishbone Ash

May 8 Gladys Knight & the Pips

May 10 The Guess Who

Aug. 8 Uriah Heep, Blue Oyster Cult, Atlanta Rhythm Section

Aug. 16 Lynyrd Skynyrd, Charlie Daniels Band

Aug. 27 Jethro Tull, Sensational Alex Harvey Band

Oct. 16 Aerosmith, Mahogany Rush

Oct. 20 Kiss

Nov. 1 Crosby/Nash

Dec. 13 J. Geils Band, Gary Wright, Peter Frampton


April 6 Electric Light Orchestra, Journey

April 20 Bob Dylan Rolling Thunder Revue

May 15 Aerosmith, Mahogany Rush

July 15 Jeff Beck

July 16 Rainbow, Savoy Brown, Roy Buchanan

Aug. 14 Johnny Taylor

Sept. 3 Elvis Presley

Sept. 16 Jefferson Starship

Oct. 29 Smoke

Nov. 5 Eric Clapton, Charlie Daniels Band

Nov. 7 The Billy Cobham-George Duke Band


Jan. 14 Marshall Tucker Band, Pure Prairie League

Feb. 14 Elvis Presley

May 1 Tom Jones

May 6 Weather Report, Al DiMeola

June 23 Bad Company, Outlaws

July 23 Ted Nugent, Rex

Aug. 6 Commodores, Emotions, Frankie Beverly & Maze

Aug. 12 Johnny Winter, Nils Lofgren

Aug. 19 George Benson

Sept. 24 Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes

Four days before the plane crash that killed three members of Lynyrd Skynyrd.







Oct. 16 Lynyrd Skynyrd, Lake

Nov. 6 Jethro Tull

Nov. 27 Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Dec. 31 Outlaws, Sea Level, Winters Brothers Band


Jan. 28 Jackson Browne, Karla Bonoff

May 7 Willie Nelson

July 8 Andy Gibb, Alessi Brothers

July 29 Bruce Springsteen

Aug. 13 George Benson, Noel Pointer

Sept. 7 Commodores, LTD

Sept. 16 Frank Zappa

Nov. 6 Black Sabbath, Van Halen 

Nov. 28 Billy Joel


Jan. 9 Boston, Sammy Hagar

Feb. 1 Johnny Cash

March 10 Parliament/Funkadelic, Brides of Funkenstein

May 3 The Jacksons

May 13 Supertramp

May 19 Cheap Trick

July 15 Outlaws, Climax Blues Band, Johnny Van Zant

July 21 Journey, Thin Lizzy

Sept. 9 Allman Brothers Band, Henry Paul Band

Sept. 21 The Guess Who

Oct. 21 Jimmy Buffett

Nov. 29 The Osmonds



April 27 Journey, the Babys

May 23 The Spinners

July 15 Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Tommy Tutone

July 18 Alice Cooper, Billy Squier

Aug. 1 Jan & Dean

Aug. 3 Molly Hatchet, Dixie Dregs, Johnny Van Zant Band

Aug. 12 Van Halen (postponed to Nov. 14)

Sept. 12 George Benson

Oct. 15 Barry Manilow

Nov. 16 Pat Benatar

Dec. 7 The Police



Jan. 3 Kool & the Gang

Feb. 27 Jimmy Buffett

April 1 Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey

May 23 Loverboy, Point Blank

Aug. 27 Rick James, Cameo, Teena Marie

Sept. 18 George Benson, Sadao Watanabe

Oct. 6 Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Joe Ely

Oct. 22 Frank Zappa

Nov. 13 Commodores, Betty Wright

Nov. 17 Barry Manilow

Nov. 18 Rod Stewart

Dec. 30 Outlaws, Blackfoot



March 9 Johnny Cash

March 24 Beach Boys

March 28 Jimmy Buffett

April 12 Rush/Krokus

May 28 Chicago

July 8 Kenny Rogers, Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers

July 15 Rick James

Sept. 6 Elvis Costello & the Attractions, Talk Talk

Sept. 21 The Go-Go’s, A Flock of Seagulls

Oct. 10 Jethro Tull

Nov. 25 Billy Joel

Dec. 27 .38 Special, Cheap Trick



Jan. 30 Billy Squier, Saga

Feb. 11 Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Nick Lowe

March 31 Joe Jackson

April 1 Beach Boys

May 17 Daryl Hall & John Oates

July 23 Savatage, Zebra

Aug. 7 Rick Springfield, Sparks

Sept. 1 Styx

Oct. 9 Loverboy, Zebra

Oct. 20 Barbara Mandrell, Lee Greenwood

Oct. 21 Jeffrey Osborne, Maze & Frankie Beverly, Phyllis Hyman

Oct. 26 Engelbert Humperdinck

Nov. 5 Zapp & Roger, Midnight Star, Gap Band

Nov. 18 Jimmy Buffett

Dec. 26 .38 Special, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

Jon Bon Jovi, July 10, 1984. Photo by Christopher Lee Helton.


1-21 John Denver

Feb. 1 Adam Ant, the Romantics

Feb. 3 Quiet Riot, Saga

March 14 Tom Jones

March 17 Billy Joel

May 31 Berlin, Frankie Goes to Hollywood 

June 1 Eddie Money

July 10 Scorpions, Bon Jovi

July 15 Bobby Womack/Patti LaBelle

July 25 The Go-Go’s, INXS

July 28 Air Supply

Aug. 7 Quarterflash, Rick Springfield

Aug. 15 Chicago

Aug. 23 James Taylor

Sept. 5 Thompson Twins

Sept. 12 A Flock of Seagulls

Oct. 26 Cyndi Lauper, the Bangles

Nov. 19 Diana Ross

Nov. 20 Scandal, John Waite

Dec. 1 Frank Zappa

Dec. 21 Aerosmith, Black N Blue



Jan. 13 Kiss, Krokus

Feb. 17 Iron Maiden, Twisted Sister

March 17 George Thorogood & the Destroyers

May 10 Tom Jones

May 24 Bryan Adams, Survivor

Aug. 14 Keel, Helix

Aug. 28 Heart, Shooting Star

Sept. 17 Neil Young & the International Harvesters

Sept. 26 Crosby, Stills & Nash

Nov. 23 Liza Minnelli

Dec. 9 Ratt, Bon Jovi

Dec. 10 INXS, Jon Butcher Axis

Dec. 20 Motley Crue, Autograph



Feb. 20 Night Ranger, Joe Lynn Turner, Autograph

June 7 Dio, Accept

Sept. 7 Ozzy Osbourne, Queensryche

Aug. 27 James Taylor

Sept. 24 Quiet Riot, Poison, Keel

Oct. 1 Diana Ross

Nov. 21 R.E.M., Let’s Active



Feb. 15 Bon Jovi, Cinderella

Feb. 27 Beastie Boys, Fishbone

April 3 Luther Vandross, Shirley Murdock

April 24 Kansas

Ma y 3 John Denver

May 28 Willie Nelson

June 24 Eddie Money

July 23 Psychedelic Furs

Aug. 12 Stryper, TNT

Sept. 12 Fat Boys, Salt n Pepa, Heavy D & the Boyz, 4 By Four, White Boys

Sept. 17 Kenny Rogers, Ronnie Milsap


Jan. 9 Earth, Wind & Fire

Jan. 30 Megadeath

Feb. 13 Kiss, Ted Nugent

Feb. 16 Rush, Tommy Shaw

June 8 Billy Ocean, Pretty Poison

Sept. 15 Edgar Winter, Leon Russell, Gregg Allman

Oct. 15 & 16 Grateful Dead


Feb. 2 Kenny Rogers, Oak Ridge Boys

April 12 New Order, Throwing Muses

May 19 Dolly Parton

July 6 Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, the Replacements

Aug. 26 10,000 Maniacs, Camper van Beethoven

Oct. 6 Warrant, Blue Murder

Dec. 1 John Denver

Dec. 27 2 Live Crew



Jan. 22 Motley Crue, Warrant

Feb. 1 Tears For Fears

Feb. 20 Rush, Mr. Big

Sept 2. Damn Yankees, Bad Company

June 15 Temptations, Four Tops

Oct. 20 Robert Plant, the Black Crowes

Oct. 26 Gene Loves Jezebel, Concrete Blonde

Nov. 12 Winger



Jan. 26 Whitney Houston

Feb. 19 Janes Addiction, Suicidal Tendencies

March 12 Ricky Van Shelton, Highway 101

March 22 New Kids on the Block, Perfect Gentlemen

March 23 Ice Cube, Too Short, 2 Live Crew

March 24 Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, Highway 101

May 9 Charlie Daniels Band

May 16 C&C Music Factory, Timmy T, DJ Magic Mike, Tara Kemp

July 2 Queensryche, Suicidal Tendencies

Aug. 24 James Brown



March 5 Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band

May 22 Tesla, Firehouse

June 5 Todd Rundgren

Sept. 4 Billy Ray Cyrus

Nov. 13 TLC, R Kelly, Rude Boys

Dec. 5 Temptations, Four Tops



Jan. 29 Def Leppard

Feb. 13 The Association, Lovin’ Spoonful, Rare Earth, Box Tops

Feb. 19 Metallica

June 13 Martin Lawrence

Aug. 21 Dwight Yoakam, Suzy Bogguss

Nov. 2 Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Carlene Carter

Dec. 31 Jackyl


March 29 Pearl Jam

July 27 Soundgarden

July 30 2 Live Crew, Too Short, 69 Boys

Sept. 11 Bowser, the Marvelettes, the Drifters



April 4 John Michael Montgomery, Lonestar

May 8 Foghat, Blue Oyster Cult, Steppenwolf, Pat Travers Band

June 14 Patty Loveless, Paul Brandt



Nov. 30 Dio, Megadeath, Savatage



Oct. 25 Widespread Panic



May 17 Beach Boys


















Continue Reading


  1. Avatar

    Hugh Hazeltine

    March 27, 2024at10:33 am

    The circus would stage the animals, Lions, tigers, bears, elephants, horses ,and monkeys in what is now Albert Whitted Park. The sound s and odors were amazing.

  2. Avatar

    Michael Belanger

    March 25, 2024at10:13 am

    Went to soccer games, Ringling Brothers Circus, and to see President Nixon, with the family, through the 60s and 70s.
    The first concert I went to on my own was to see Kiss in Oct of 1975. $5.00 tickets! Got one of the posters from the wall, and 10 years ago sold it for $2,000!! It was their first tour as a headliner, and maybe the second or third stop on that tour, which made the poster so much in demand. Could not find real ones when posting it, just smaller copies.
    Saw Ted Nugent in July of 77, before going into the Army. Terrible Ted! No more concerts there for me, but, BoyScout shows, Disney on Ice shows and anything child related through the 90s.
    I miss the Bayfront Center.

  3. Avatar


    March 24, 2024at9:34 am

    A good list full of memories, but I definitely remember seeing the B-52s with the Bongos (with Tampa native Richard Barone) in 1982 there; Big Country, and the Psychedelic Furs sometime before 1985, so there are some shows missing.

    • Bill DeYoung

      Bill DeYoung

      March 24, 2024at11:01 am

      Hi: The B-52s show in ’82 was at the Jai Alai Fronton in Tampa. The other shows you mention took place in the Bayfront Theatre, adjacent to the Arena.

  4. Avatar

    James W Geschwender

    March 24, 2024at8:20 am

    I was at the 1984 scorpions and bon Jovi concert. I still remember the scorpions putting on one hell of a show. Great place for a concert.

  5. Avatar

    Janice Taylor

    March 24, 2024at7:51 am

    So many memories. The first rock concert I attended was the 1973 show with Neil Young and Linda Ronstadt ($5). The most memorable was Springsteen in 1978 (about $8 for a seat on the floor). I’d go back to “sleepy” St. Pete anyday.

  6. Avatar

    John Donovan

    March 23, 2024at7:52 pm

    Circus and Disney on Ice. Both were good. Ask me about CSN; twice,at Ruth Eckerd Hall.

  7. Avatar

    David Punzak

    March 23, 2024at4:14 pm

    I went to the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert on 10/16/77, 3 days before their plane crashed. It was a great show, and made me a real fan of the band…

  8. Avatar

    Tim K

    March 23, 2024at3:47 pm

    Thanks for the memories

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By posting a comment, I have read, understand and agree to the Posting Guidelines.

The St. Pete Catalyst

The Catalyst honors its name by aggregating & curating the sparks that propel the St Pete engine.  It is a modern news platform, powered by community sourced content and augmented with directed coverage.  Bring your news, your perspective and your spark to the St Pete Catalyst and take your seat at the table.

Email us: spark@stpetecatalyst.com

Subscribe for Free

Share with friend

Enter the details of the person you want to share this article with.