Filed at 9:30 p.m. ET
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- The St. Petersburg Times signed a 12-
year naming rights contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday
to rename the team's arena after the newspaper.
Formerly known as the Ice Palace, the arena has been renamed the St.
Pete Times Forum. The deal also includes an option for another 12
The forum boasts itself as the first stadium named after a newspaper.
``I believe we have found the perfect partner for the naming rights
opportunity,'' said Ronald J. Campbell, the team's president.
Opened in October 1996, the arena is owned by Palace Sports and
Entertainment, which purchased the Lightning, the Ice Palace and the
naming rights in June 1999.
``We have strong respect and great regard for our partners at the St.
Pete Times Forum,'' said Paul Tash, editor and president of the St.
Petersburg Times. ``Their record is one of the key factors that
attracts us to this deal.''
The Times has a daily circulation of 352,777, tops in Florida.
The paper also sponsors the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, but shares no
naming rights with them.
According to a statement released by the Forum, the deal has no
revenue-sharing components and will not affect the paper's
relationship with any of its advertisers.
The Miami Herald sought to own the naming rights of the Broward
County convention center two years ago, but the $13 million deal fell
through over a ticket surcharge dispute.