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Where is Tampa Bay? We're so confused

As if St. Pete and Tampa didn't already have a bad case of mom-likes-you-best sibling rivalry.

As if the two towns weren't already duking it out over who's-the-best-city and whose-team-is-it-anyway.

No, they had to go and mess with our map, too.

Advertising fliers stuffed recently into nearly 1.7 million Sunday newspapers got wrong some specifics on what's what around here, in particular, what's where. Clearwater Beach, as it turns out, is in North Florida. And the drive seems so short!

The purpose of the visitor guide was to bring vacationers to our sunny shores, particularly important when the rest of the world assumes our state is saturated in oil. It was actually (and ironically) produced by a company in Georgia, where proofreading is apparently a lost art and actual Florida facts beside the point.

Local government types were not amused to find St. Pete's jewel of a Dali Museum relocated to Tampa, nor its red hot Rays baseball team insultingly renamed for, you guessed it, Tampa.

Okay, so maybe folks in Tampa were sniggering just a little. Tampa does seem to get big-dog status whenever our area makes national news. And if the inclusive "Tampa Bay" is too cumbersome for sportscasters and cable talking heads to say, "St. Petersburg" is waaaay too many syllables.

Hey St. Pete — I bet if you asked real nice, Tampa might be willing to hand over its newly-renamed 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre, and along with it the title for Tackiest-Named Venue In America.

Listen, on both sides of the bay, we sincerely want visitors to come and spend and enjoy, all the way from Pass-a-Grille Beach (located in the Everglades) to Ybor City (in the heart of sunny Key West!)

But seriously. How are visitors supposed to comprehend the collection of communities and distinct personalities that make up Hillsborough and Pinellas counties? Or that cities separated by mere bridges still can have about as much in common as stone crabs and Cuban sandwiches?

Maybe some distinctions would be helpful:

1. You know you are in Tampa when the panhandler outside your car window looks like a really scruffy Department of Transportation worker who happens to be carrying a "Will Work For Beer" sign instead of a shovel, because he is wearing a regulation city-ordered reflective vest in stylish neon.

In St. Pete, where such solicitation has been banned on the busiest streets, he might be getting arrested.

2. "St. Petersburg's Salvador Dali Museum" really is in St. Petersburg, despite being confusingly listed under "Tampa." It has not thus far been franchised out like a McDonald's.

And finally, the sorest point of all:

3. St. Pete, not Tampa, has the Tampa Bay Rays, which are no longer "Devil" and have never been exclusively "Tampa." Never mind folks out there enthusiastic about bringing the team to Tampa, which actually would make things easier on those national sportscasters, syllable-allocation wise.

Kidding, St. Pete! A little sister-city humor there!

In conclusion, we are technically not Tampa Bay, which is actually a body of water, but the Tampa Bay area, which is a mouthful, though an improvement over the all-inclusive Greater Tampa-St.Petersburg-Clearwater metropolitan area.

And welcome to Florida. GPS optional.

Where is Tampa Bay? We're so confused 06/10/10 [Last modified: Thursday, June 10, 2010 8:14pm]
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