Tuesday, November 21, 2017
News Roundup

Images of Pier likely to be around for a while

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ST. PETERSBURG — It says St. Petersburg and nowhere else.

That quirky inverted pyramid or upside-down triangle, as some describe it, has been the ubiquitous Tampa Bay silhouette in nationally televised broadcasts from the Honda Grand Prix to Rays baseball games and the staple of postcards, T-shirts, tourist brochures and websites. It's even incorporated into the logo seen on some St. Petersburg police vehicles.

What happens now that the landmark Pier has been closed and slated for demolition?

Close to home, no one is rushing to erase its image. Except for Pier-centric material, which likely will disappear immediately, the likeness of the inverted pyramid will fade away gradually.

With the city's plan to replace the 1973 Pier in the works for a few years, the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce has had plenty of time to prepare for life without the iconic structure.

Chris Steinocher, the chamber's president and chief executive officer, says the organization has typically included the Pier in most, if not all, of its publications and collateral material, but "consciously chose not to feature it" in this year's visitors' guide.

The Pier also appears in the city's brochures and on its website and TV channel, said Beth Herendeen, St. Petersburg's marketing and communications director.

There will be some immediate changes, she said.

"We've got programming that we will take off the air of things to do at the Pier," she said. "We have other shows that have the Pier in the background. If it's secondary to the message, it will stay."

Herendeen said most printed material will not be changed until necessary.

"There is not a desire or the budget to reprint everything. The Pier has been with us for 40-plus years," she said. "We'll still have images of it in our gallery, the same as we do of the Million Dollar Pier."

For the time being, the Pier also will remain part of the logo that appears on the side of some police vehicles. The logo features an eagle with a city landscape that includes Tropicana Field, One Progress Plaza — the tallest building in Pinellas County, originally known as Barnett Tower — and the Pier.

A new logo without the cityscape was introduced in 2011, police spokesman Mike Puetz said, but "because we are holding on to cruisers longer now, those that have the city landscape logos will probably be around for maybe the next six or seven years."

Pinellas County's tourism agency, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, regularly updates its promotional literature and videos.

While the agency's website still mentioned the Pier as "one of downtown St. Pete's most famous landmarks" a day before the attraction closed, by last week, the attraction no longer appeared as a place to visit.

"Are we actively looking to scrub it from everything? No," deputy director David Downing said. "Images are refreshed as we get new photography. It's tough to keep up with the skyline of St. Pete. It's tough to keep up with the latest on Clearwater Beach. We try to be as up to date as we can, while still having images that are useful for promotional tools."

Chuck Wray, president and publisher of CJ Publishers, which produces the Discover Downtown St. Petersburg Guide & Map, featured the inverted pyramid on the cover of the summer 2013 edition.

"People actually took it for souvenirs," he said of the free publication available at hotels, merchants and other locations.

Wray, who also publishes the Welcome Guide-Map for Tampa Bay and the Gulf Beaches, said he will continue to show the Pier on the maps as a point of reference but indicate that it is closed.

The inverted pyramid has been important to the image and identity of the city, Steinocher said.

"We've sold a lot of postcards over the past years with the inverted pyramid boldly featured as the centerpiece," he said in an email. "It helped provide us a unique identifier and, when built, probably was a very good representation of our identity and accurately encapsulated the Florida experience at that time."

Going forward, though, Steinocher, whose chamber supports plans for the Lens to replace the Pier, embraces change.

"While I'm melancholy to see the old Pier come down, I'm comfortable in my belief that it's time to say farewell to this aging structure and ready to ensure we have a new Pier that reflects the new identity of St. Pete," he said.

Each Pier over the past century has been "a beacon sending an audacious message of who we've become … while offering all our residents the best experience to easily play at our waterfront. ... I'm hopeful we'll do that again — real soon."

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283.

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