TAMPA, Fla. – The St. Pete Times Forum will officially become the Tampa Bay Times Forum on January 1, 2012, Tampa Bay Lightning Chief Executive Office Tod Leiweke announced today. The name change occurs as the arena’s naming rights partner, the St. Petersburg Times, changes the name of the newspaper to the Tampa Bay Times, adopting a name that reflects the region that the Times reaches on a daily basis.
“The St. Petersburg Times has evolved into being a regional newspaper,” said Leiweke upon making the announcement. “As its management makes the significant step of changing the name on the masthead to represent that regionalization, we are pleased to embrace the new name in the title of the home to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Tampa Bay Storm and the 2012 Republican National Convention.”
The two organizations originally announced the name change on November 1, 2011 in addition to an extension of the naming rights agreement through August 31, 2018. The arena originally opened as the Ice Palace in October, 1996. Its name was changed to the St. Pete Times Forum in September of 2002 when the Times signed a naming rights contract with Palace Sports & Entertainment, then the parent company of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Tampa Bay Lightning and Tampa Bay Storm are currently owned by Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment LLC (TBSE), an entity controlled by Jeffrey Vinik. TBSE owns the operating company, Tampa Bay Arena, LP, which manages the arena.