The Tampa Bay Times, the largest newspaper in the state, announced Tuesday it had purchased the Tampa Tribune.
In a statement posted Tuesday to the Tampa Bay Times website, Paul Tash, the chair and CEO of the Times, said the purchase puts the paper “on solid financial footing and gives the Tampa Bay region an independent, locally owned newspaper that can keep serving customers and communities for the long term.”
“Without this move, the continued competition between the Times and Tribune was putting both in peril. In today’s economy, you can count on one hand the number of cities that can sustain more than one daily newspaper, and the Tampa Bay region is no longer among them,” he said.
The purchase goes into effect immediately. Beginning Wednesday, Tribune subscribers will receive the Times. While the Times said both of the newspapers’ websites — tampabay.com and TBO.com — would be maintained, on Tuesday afternoon the Tribune’s website was redirecting visitors to the Times website.
The purchase marks the end of the 123-year-old Tampa Tribune as a stand-alone newspaper. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the paper was started in 1893 when Wallace Stovall moved his news operations to Tampa from Bartow. The paper became a daily newspaper in 1895.
In 2012, the Tribune was sold by longtime owner Media General to California-based Revolution Capital for $9.5 million. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Tash did not disclose a purchase price.
“We want to make the Times a better newspaper for all our readers, including those who have been with us right along,” he said in his statement.
Tash went on to say that he understands the purchase of the Tribune comes with a cost. The community is losing a daily newspaper and “the people who work for it will be moving on, either to the Times or somewhere else.” Tash said the process started in February, when the Tribune moved its printing to the Times facility and “will continue over the next two months.”
“It’s fair to say that we have seen this day coming for a very long time,” he said in his statement. “Now that it is here, we can look toward many more days ahead. To all our readers and advertisers, no matter where you are, no matter how long you have been buying the Times, we are honored to have you with us. We call ourselves “Florida’s Best Newspaper” not to brag, but as our commitment to you.”
The announcement comes about a week after the Tampa Bay Times had announced it sold its St. Petersburg headquarters. The company sold the building to 490 First Avenue Owner LLC for $19 million. The paper has a 15-year lease and will occupy about half the building, which will continue to bear the newspaper’s name.
Last year, the Tribune sold its 4.2-acre headquarters for $17.75 million. The newspaper was expected to remain on the property until spring. It was unclear where the paper would go after.
The sale is just the latest in a series of shake-ups in the state’s newspaper industry. In April, newspaper giant Gannett closed on its $280 million purchase of Journal Media Group, the parent company of the Naples Daily News and the Treasure Coast Newspapers.
Within days of closing that deal, Gannett, which owns USA Today, offered to buy Tribune Publishing for about $815 million. Tribune Publishing owns the Orlando Sun-Sentinel and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, as well as the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.
On Monday, USA Today reported that Gannett Co. plans to solicit Tribune Publishing shareholders to withhold their votes in the upcoming board of directors’ election, “in an attempt to send a stronger message to management to begin negotiations on Gannett’s $815 million takeover bid.”