Tampa-St. Pete Naming Battle Continues

By: Wayne Robins

The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune is trolling for exposure in the shadow of the St. Pete Times Forum.

The trolley stop in downtown Tampa nearest the former Ice Palace, now the St. Pete Times Arena, will be named after The Tampa Tribune. According to a story in Wednesday’s St. Petersburg Times, the Tribune will barter $125,000 worth of free ads for naming rights to the stop. The trolley, which is not yet in operation, is one of those tourist-friendly concepts aimed at revitalizing downtown.

Amy Chown, marketing director for Tribune, says, hold on. “The story in the St. Pete Times was premature,” she said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. “We have a proposal regarding the naming of the stop near what is now the St. Pete Times Forum, but no contract has been signed, and the amount they quoted was an amount different from what we had discussed as our contribution towards this community resource.”

Oh yeah?, replies the Times? “The Tribune has not contacted us about the accuracy of Wednesday’s story,” said Times Managing Editor Neil Brown in a phone interview Thursday morning. “We saw the document, the story is completely accurate, and we stand by it firmly.”

In fact, Brown said, the naming of the trolley stop after its crossbay rival Tribune may be delayed because the owner of a nearby strip club has offered the City Council more money (and presumably cash) for naming rights to the Forum trolley stop. The strip club in question is named neither the Times Bada-Bing nor the Tribune Bada-Boom, though it seems that in this newspaper game of tit-for-tat, everything in the greater St. Petersburg/Tampa region may be up for grabs.

For the record, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays baseball team plays in a stadium in St. Petersburg. The St. Pete Times Forum is in Tampa. The Ice Palace, now renamed the St. Pete Times Forum, is home of the Tampa Bay Lightning. According to investigators hired by E&P, the Lightning, as best as could be determined at press time, is apparently a team that plays in the National Hockey League.

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