The decision to change the name of the St. Petersburg Times to Tampa Bay Times was met with enthusiasm and derision, with hope over a region-unifying moniker and regret over the end of an era.
After announcing the news in a front-page story Tuesday, Times chairman and CEO Paul Tash said he personally received about three dozen responses via phone and e-mail, most of them positive.
"They clearly understand the business reasons and are very supportive of having a Tampa Bay regional identity," he said.
Some Times alumni who contacted him were "both wistful and supportive."
Many e-mails to the paper and comments attached to an online version of the story were negative. But even there, Tash saw a bright spot.
"The essential objections are rooted in affection for St. Petersburg and a sense that the newspaper matters," he said. "I fully share those sentiments, and in that respect, I'm honored by the objections, and I hope as people have a little time with this (change) it will become more familiar and comfortable."
The new name takes effect on Jan. 1.
Here's a sampling of reader and community feedback
"In a world where place matters less and less, where place is being obscured by boomburbs, microburbs, and edge cities, I loved the name St. Petersburg Times. … The Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area of Tampa Bay is not the stuff of poets. I understand the reasons for the change, but do not approve."
Gary Mormino, history professor, Florida Studies Program, University of South Florida St. Petersburg
"We have to embrace change. I was shocked when Prince changed his name but I got over it. The newspaper was called the West Hillsborough Times once, so we're not destroying the history of the name it has always been. I think we'll enjoy the comprehensiveness of this change and get a dividend from it."
Hank Hine, director of the Salvador Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg
"I think it represents the reality of a region that is united by far more than divides it. We will succeed as a region because it is in our best interest to work as a region."
Bob Buckhorn, Tampa mayor
"The St. Petersburg Times has been, and continues to be, a great community partner and employer in the city of St. Petersburg. I wish them nothing but the best."
Bill Foster, St. Petersburg mayor
"I understand and appreciate Mr. Tash's position, that he's got to look out for the best interest of the newspaper. And I guess the best interest is to regionalize it. But (the St. Petersburg Times name) is historical in its character, and it's a name everyone respects, and that's how I'll always remember it."
State Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who years ago delivered papers for the St. Petersburg Times
"Whenever I'm outside of this area, most people know us now by the Tampa Bay area. … But I am nostalgic, because I grew up here. I remember the Clearwater Sun … they went away. The Evening Independent went away. And we still had the St. Pete Times. So it's just nostalgic, but I think it also a good thing when you sit back and think about it."
Karen Seel, Pinellas County commissioner
"I think it's a great thing. There will probably be a little confusion in the beginning, but anything that brings the two sides of the bay together is good. In the arts, if we look at the entire Tampa Bay area … we have so much to offer. It's smart to have the newspaper reflect that."
Judy Lisi, president and CEO, Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa
"The new name reflects the regional approach that we all should be taking in the Tampa Bay area. The airport serves the entire West Coast of Florida, and we're working with our community partners throughout the region. It's critical for businesses and institutions to reach across city and county lines and work together. … I applaud the Times for this bold step."
Joe Lopano, CEO of Tampa International Airport
"I liked the St. Pete Times better. It's a St. Petersburg institution. This city likes to have its name out there, and this was one of the brands. It hurts our city a little bit."
Steve Kornell, member of St. Petersburg City Council
"The Times is a regional newspaper and Tampa Bay Times is more appropriate today than it was five or six years ago. Hopefully, we'll become more and more regional and think of ourselves as a region as opposed to us against Tampa or us against Clearwater."
Russ Bond, general manager of the Renaissance Vinoy Resort, St. Petersburg
"That's interesting. … Does the region call itself the Tampa Bay region? … They're clearly competing with the Tampa paper. You guys are in a tough business. There's no easy business, though."
Gov. Rick Scott, when told of the name change during a coffee-and-doughnut meeting with reporters
Contributing: Jeff Harrington, Robert Trigaux, Steve Bousquet, Michael Van Sickler, Steve Huettel, John Fleming, Richard Danielson, Lennie Bennett, and David DeCamp.