Tampa – Grand Prix Tampa, the 15-acre recreational campus that includes two go-kart tracks, arcades, putter cages, and two of Hillsborough County’s few mini golf courses, is closed.
“We regret to inform you that Grand Prix Tampa is permanently closed,” their Facebook page said Monday morning.
Property owners Christian and Carlos Yepes, who run Belleair Development Group in Pinellas Park, want to construct 11 three-story apartment buildings with 298 units on the property located at 14320 N. Nebraska Ave. , which currently includes a globe-shaped metal rope climbing trail that can be seen from I-275 near the northbound Bearss Avenue exit.
Carlos Yepes said they will auction off mini golf and other Grand Prix Tampa pieces on site at 9 a.m. on August 9.
“It’s sad,” said David Alfonso, 40, while playing golf on his 18-hole course with his two young sons Sunday night before the course closed at 8 p.m. I’ve had birthday parties for my kids here. This place has been here forever.”
Well, since 1978.
It opened that year as the Malibu Grand Prix, and is one of about 30 recreational campuses operated by Warner Communications, then the parent company of Warner Bros. , according to the Tampa Bay Times archive.
A 1979 article in the Tampa Tribune stated that “the dream-promoting group has a lot of experience selling the movie version of Hollywood fantasy.” “Now Walter Metiz rushes to see Steve McQueen driving a red Ferrari through Monte Carlo in the driver’s seat themselves.”
By 2005, the place was in ruins, according to the Tampa Tribune, but a new property group renamed it Grand Prix Tampa and revamped the campus by purchasing a fleet of 50 faster cars, fixing the shooters and installing 100 new video games.
In December, Christian and Carlos Yepes purchased the property for $8.2 million, according to Hillsborough’s online real estate records.
Among the Belleair Development Group’s completed projects, according to its website, are Pinellas County Tax Complex in Saint Petersburg and Hilton Home2Suites in Largo.
The shutdown was saddened by “Tampa!!! I was born and raised and I remember when… “Facebook page
Laurie Le Judette wrote: “Many things disappear.”
Ken Tomash wrote, “My buddies and I spent many Friday evenings there in high school” in the early 1980s.
Alfonso wondered where he would take his kids in mini golf now.
“Is there any place left here?” He said.
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On the Tampa side of the bridge, an online search found Ace Golf in Riverview and Plantation Palms Golf Club in Land O’Lakes. Owner Andrew Schachter said Grove Mini Golf Wesley Chapel will open in about 90 days.
He was also shocked when he learned that Grand Prix Tampa was closed.
“Wonderful,” said Schachter. “They’ve been there forever.”