Loss of forum’s naming rights another blow to the Tampa Bay Times

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It’s been a palace. Then it was a forum. Now it’s an arena.

Yep, the giant renovated space home to the Tampa Bay Lightning, up until today the Tampa Bay Times Forum, is changing names yet again.

It’s new name, effective immediately, the Amalie Oil Co. Arena, or for short, Amalie Arena.

Details of the name swap deal haven’t been announced, but according to the Tampa Bay Times’ report, it’s pricey and lengthy. Typically deals like that run around 15-30 years and cost a sponsor between $1 million and $2 million per year.

The Tampa Bay Times had extended its naming rights into 2018 in order to usher its new brand to consumers while transitioning from The St. Petersburg Times to its current name.

The paper says the terms of its deal have been met and releasing its naming rights wasn’t all about money.

Yeah, right.

The Tampa Tribune, the Times’ primary competition in the area, reported in March that revenue at the Times is half what it was five years ago. Worse, the paper reportedly took out  a $28 million loan due in December 2016. They’ve also been selling off properties left and right. And, the Poynter Institute, which used to rely on income from the Times, now says the paper is no longer a viable source of support.

The Times boasts increased revenue during the period of time its name was on the, er, Amalie Arena – this will take some time folks. Circulation in Hillsborough County and parts of suburban Pasco tripled since the paper took over naming of the Lightning’s home ice. It also had its name front and center during the Republican National Convention, which was viewed worldwide.

Amalie is a Tampa-based motor oil company that already owns naming rights for the Tampa Bay Storm’s arena. Despite its local roots though, the company is relatively unheard of. With this deal, owners hope to change that.

Renaming of sports venues isn’t uncommon, especially when naming rights bring in a decent chunk of change.

The Tampa Stadium became Raymond James when it was rebuilt in the lot next door.

Tropicana Field was orignially the Florida Suncoast Dome and the Thunder Dome in between.

Just last month the Beef O’Brady’s St. Pete Bowl became the Bitcoin Bowl.

But how many people actually called it the Tampa Bay Times Forum locally? Most just called it the Forum, right?

Raymond James Stadium maintained some of its brand identity by being nicknamed Ray J. and Tropicana Field even maintains part of its name in shorthand – the Trop.

Amalie Arena does have a ring to it, but just like locals still call the Tampa Bay Times the St. Pete Times, it’s probably likely “Forum” will stick for some time to come.

And don’t expect to wake up in the morning to all new signs on the giant downtown stadium. Lightning officials aren’t saying when those logos will be replaced, but says it will be before hockey season starts in October. Branding on websites and other easy-to-change mediums will start immediately.

When the time comes to hit up a Lightning game, there’s a good chance people will all have different ways of calling the building housing the former Stanley Cup Champs.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email [email protected]