St. Pete Times Forum changing name to Tampa Bay Times Forum

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November

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So, did anything interesting happen overnight at your office?

In case you missed it, the St. Petersburg Times is changing its name to the Tampa Bay Times effective Jan. 1, 2012. But we're not here to talk about that. We're here to talk about the effect this will have on the local concert industry, which is: Our biggest concert arena is changing its name, too.

The St. Pete Times Forum will change its name to the Tampa Bay Times Forum on the same day as the newspaper, Jan. 1. Additionally, the arena announced Tuesday that it has extended its naming-rights agreement with the newspaper through Aug. 31, 2018. That's a lot more Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift concerts.

"The Lightning proudly support our partners for their vision as a world-class newspaper serving their readers and our community," Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik said in a statement released to the St. Petersburg Times on Monday night. "Our arena will soon be known as the Tampa Bay Times Forum, newly renovated and newly named, showcasing all that our unique region has to offer. We want to be a beacon for Tampa Bay, hosting tens of thousands of fans and seen by millions more across North America."

We here at SoundcheckCorp. were among the most vocal opponents when Tampa's Ford Amphitheatre changed its name to the 1-800-Ask-Gary Amphitheatre (a name that still sucks, by the way). So it's only fair we open the floor to any critics of this name change.

But truthfully, we think most people will get behind it. How many times have you heard someone say, "Wait a minute -- the ST. PETE Times Forum is actually in downtown TAMPA?!? That makes no sense!" Regardless of how you feel about the name "Tampa Bay Times Forum," at least this will be marginally less geographically confusing. (And can we make a selfish plea for people to start calling it the "TBT Forum" for short? Anyone?)

There are a few chances left for you to say goodbye to the "old" St. Pete Times Forum, including Taylor Swift on Nov. 12, Andrea Bocelli on Dec. 4 and the 93.3-FLZ Jingle Ball on Dec. 11. But by the time Winter Jam rolls into town on Jan. 14, your tickets will say Tampa Bay Times Forum.

What do you guys think? Putting aside, for the moment, your feelings about the newspaper's name change in general, how do you feel about Tampa's premiere concert and hockey arena being called the Tampa Bay Times Forum? Or have you still been calling it the Ice Palace this whole time? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

Get a complete, official statement from the Tampa Bay Lightning and St. Pete Times Forum after the jump.

The statement from the Forum:

ST. PETE TIMES FORUM BEING RENAMED “TAMPA BAY TIMES FORUM” ON JANUARY 1, 2012

Naming Rights Contract Extended Through August 2018

TAMPA BAY – Tampa Bay Arena, LP and Times Publishing Company announced this morning that the St. Pete Times Forum is being renamed the “Tampa Bay Times Forum,” effective January 1, 2012. Additionally, the companies announced that the naming rights contract between the two has been extended through August 31, 2018. The arena is the playing home of the National Hockey League’s Tampa Bay Lightning and it will host the Republican National Convention in August, 2012. The sponsorship was extended on terms consistent with the current contract.

“The St. Petersburg Times has evolved into being a regional newspaper,” said Tod Leiweke, Chief Executive Officer of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Times Forum. “As its management makes the significant step of changing the name on the masthead to represent that progression, we are pleased to announce the Times has elected to extend the naming rights to the arena.”

The arena originally opened as the Ice Palace in October 1996 to serve as the home of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the hub of an economic development zone in downtown Tampa’s Channelside District. The building’s name was changed in September 2002 to the St. Pete Times Forum when Times Publishing signed a naming rights contract with Palace Sports & Entertainment, then the parent company of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"Our good name is our most important asset,” said Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash. “As we take up our new name, we are delighted to raise it above the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Jeff Vinik, Tod Leiweke and their team at the Tampa Bay Lightning have proven themselves to be excellent partners who share our values and our vision for the Tampa Bay region." The Lightning are currently owned by Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment LLC (TBSE), an entity controlled by Jeffrey Vinik. TBSE owns the arena operating company, Tampa Bay Arena, LP.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*. Photo: Getty Images.

[Last modified: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 10:48am]

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