The St. Petersburg Times announced this week plans to change its name to the Tampa Bay Times next year.
Times CEO Paul Tash explained that the switch, which will go into effect Jan. 1, is a simple matter of geography.
"Our name no longer fits the newspaper or the audience we serve," Tash wrote in a letter to the paper's 240,000-plus readers. "Three-fourths of St. Petersburg Times readers live outside St. Petersburg."
The move is also a shot across the bow at St. Pete Times' rival, the Tampa Bay Tribune. It also seems not to have escaped the notice of the St. Pete Times that the Republican National Committee is holding its 2012 convention in Tampa.
"Next summer, the Republican Party is bringing its convention to Tampa Bay," Tash wrote. "Some delegates will arrive on Southwest Airlines, which has more flights here than anybody else. It lists the destination: Tampa Bay."
"We do not make this change lightly," he added. "The St. Petersburg Times has built a national reputation on the kind of work that has won eight Pulitzer Prizes. Nor do we intend any slight to the vibrant city where our principal offices and our production facilities remain. I met and married my wife in St. Petersburg. Our daughters were born here. My mother died here. I am proud to call St. Petersburg my home."
Reader reactions to the announcement have been wildly mixed.
"Tampa Bay is a body of water, it does not describe a region of people," one wrote. "This name change is a slap in the face to St. Petersburg residents."
"As much as my inner St. Pete native hates it, I think this is a smart and forward-thinking move," wrote another. "Plus, it'll make the Trib mad, which is always fun."
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