NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County plans to secede from the Nature Coast. It no longer will be only natural, either.
Visit Pasco, the county's tourism agency, is poised to rebrand Pasco as Florida's Sports Coast to capitalize on its sports facilities, outdoor adventure offerings and water activities along the coast.
"Our goal is to find things that are most relevant about Pasco County and the things that are most different about Pasco County and package that to draw tourists,'' said Andy Jorishie, managing director of the Zimmerman Agency in Tallahassee, which is leading the rebranding effort for $45,000 as part of a $326,000 contract with the county.
The agency briefed the Tourist Development Council last week, and the full county commission approved the branding and marketing plan Tuesday.
In prior years, the county's tourism promotions included the slogan "It's only natural'' to capitalize on ecotourism in its parks and trails. Pasco also has been considered the southern portion of the Nature Coast, a tourist-friendly identity that includes Hernando and Citrus counties.
But passive is making way for higher energy and a philosophy of "Let's play.''
"Today's leisure traveler is looking for active experiences,'' said Jorishie. "...Life is meant to be enjoyed, so get out there.''
Which means, he said, Pasco should be the state's destination for active families. Marketing itself as Florida's Sports Coast is intended to draw the team and individual sports enthusiasts who will: use the $44 million indoor sports complex planned for Wiregrass Ranch, the privately owned Florida Hospital Center Ice, lacrosse fields at Wesley Chapel District Park, sand volleyball courts at Sunwest Park in Hudson and a network of biking and pedestrian trails; fish, boat and kayak in west Pasco; skydive in Zephyrhills; and zip line at TreeHoppers, outside Dade City.
The Tourist Development Council also got a sneak peek at three potential logos that will be subjected to market surveys before a final design is picked. One logo used a script font to look like writing on a throw-back baseball uniform. Another featured slanted lettering to indicate motion. And the third used the state of Florida in the background and an icon to show Pasco's location in the state. On Tuesday, commissioners viewed just one logo showing the slanted lettering.
A proposed advertising campaign would feature sports jerseys with uniform numbers touting individual attractions like nine world-class golf courses, 24 miles of coastline and 13 for jumping from an airplane 13,000 feet above the ground.
Commissioner Mike Moore, the panel's chairman, Dade City Mayor Camille Hernandez and New Port Richey Council member Chopper Davis lauded the campaign's effort to tie east and west Pasco together.
"That's something we've been trying to do for how many years?'' said Moore. "Forever.''
They weren't alone in their enthusiasm.
"Are we ready for this? Because this is amazing,'' said Wendy Longman, CEO of Windsong Charters. "I'm going to need at least four more dock hands.''
Afterward, Jorishie and Adam Thomas, Pasco tourism director, both said they did not foresee a potential conflict with the existence of a similarly named tourist attraction - the Coastal Florida Sports Park. That 5,000-seat stadium in Cocoa draws baseball and softball teams from around the country.
"That's one park,'' said Thomas. "We're going to own this'' Florida Sports Coast brand.
Contact C.T. Bowen at email@example.com or (813) 435-7306. Follow @CTBowen2.