On Tuesday morning, the St. Pete Times newspaper, whose naming rights adorn the home of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning and the AFL’s Tampa Bay Storm as the St. Pete Times Forum officially announced that the arena’s name will undergo a name change and become the Tampa Bay Times Forum on January 1, 2012.
The renaming change coincides with the name change of the newspaper from the St. Pete Times to the Tampa Bay Times. According to a report this morning on the Times website and in an announcement from the Lightning, the new name reflects the growth of the newspaper and vision for the region.
In addition to the name change, the Times Publishing Company and Tampa Bay Arena, LP announced that the naming rights contract between the two has been extended through August 31, 2018.
The Lightning is 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.
“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 was built as a new home for the Lightning after the club outgrew the Expo Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Prior to the opening of the IcePalacein 1996, the Lightning moved to the FloridaSuncoast Dome, which was nicknamed the “Thunderdome,” in St. Petersburg, Florida, joining the Tampa Bay Storm, in 1994. The Thunderdome is now named Tropicana Field. Upon the completion of the IcePalace, both the Lightning and the Storm, moved in.
In September of 2002, the Ice Palace name was changed 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 TampaBayregion.”
For more info: Tampa Bay Lightning, St. Pete Times, St. Pete Times Forum
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