November 26, 2022

TAMPA, FL (AP) – Mario Núñez has strong opinions on how Tampa should be promoted.

“Tampeño,” said Núñez, host of The Tampa Natives Show, which celebrates the city’s history. “Debate over.”

Tampa flag?

“It is horrible.” He said. “Debate over.”

But one question, particularly Tampa-centric, has Núñez’s blood boiling hotter than a pot of crab chili. What does he think of the term Tampa Bay to describe the area?

“I hate it,” he said. “Tampa Bay is water. Tampa Bay does not have a zip code. Therefore, it does not physically exist.”

In fact, it used to be a physical place with a mailing address, but more on that later.

Since the 1970s, Tampa Bay has been the national, mainstream, and comprehensive descriptor of a group of cities around the body of water. Decades later, locals remain divided over the term as residents on either side of the bridge fear it will strip the city of its individuality.

“The problem is that it was meant to clarify the region, but now it is being used as a city name,” said Núñez. “It was supposed to be in the Tampa Bay area, but it was cut to Tampa Bay, causing confusion. How many times have you heard a football announcer say Tampa is Tampa Bay and a baseball announcer say St. Pete is Tampa Bay?”


The Tampa Bay Times regularly receives e-mails, phone calls and social media messages angry and ridiculing them for using the term Tampa Bay. So does the Tampa Bay History Center and Visit Tampa Bay.

Tampa seems more enthusiastic about the issue, at least on social media.

In a Facebook group dedicated to memories of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater, the Times asked residents how they felt about their city being tied to Tampa Bay.

In 24 hours, neither city in Pinellas County responded, but nearly 200 in Tampa.

“People live in Tampa. Fish live in Tampa Bay,” replied Tampa City Councilman Guido Maniscalco.

“I grew up in Tampa. It’s not Tampa Bay,” said Lynette Boyd-Fleming. “Hearing newscasters and others calling Tampa the bay makes me feel like they’re trying to rename the city.”

Monica Mendez-Östling wrote, “I think it’s really stupid that everyone is so upset about Tampa Bay.” “I’m a third-generation Tampa native and I can understand the difference between Tampa as a city and Tampa Bay as a community.”

“Tampa = Merry Christmas. Tampa Bay = Happy Holidays,” Dylan Breese posted. “It is comprehensive. the other is St. I don’t like Pete.”

Joey Vars, historian at the Belleview-Biltmore Hotel and curator of the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum, expected Pinellas’ indifference.

“As a local, I’m not outraged by it and don’t watch it much,” he said. “Every time I look under the sea, I see Tampa Bay. So we’re part of Tampa Bay. The only time people get angry is when they don’t want their city to unite with Tampa.”


What is Tampa Bay like besides being a body of water?

There seems to be no consensus. Visit Tampa Bay is the tourism sector of Hillsborough County. However, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater describes itself as part of Tampa Bay.

“I see it as Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco,” says Visit St. said Pete/Clearwater CEO Steve Hayes. “But if you want a broader picture, you could pull up Manatee and Sarasota.”

The Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority includes Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, and Manatee and Hernando as part of Tampa Bay, but not Sarasota. The Tampa Bay Partnership says its coalition of regional business leaders includes the same five counties, plus Sarasota, Citrus and Polk.

Visit Tampa Bay chief marketing officer Patrick Harrison said Tampa Bay “may extend as far south as Collier County. The region name. It is no longer just water.”

The Tampa Bay History Center describes itself as a regional museum, but the area is hard to do justice to.

“Hillsborough included what we now know as Ocala, Lake Okeechobee, Hernando, Port Charlotte, Pinellas and Manatee,” said Rodney Kite-Powell of the History Center. “So we tell the story of those early days.”

When detailing more modern history, the center sticks mainly to Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco, but you can explore farther.

“There are no clear boundaries when it comes to telling the history and stories of this region,” said Kite-Powell. “But before there was Tampa, there was Tampa Bay.”


It is not uncommon for cities to be named after bays.

Oregon has Coos Bay, Wisconsin has Green Bay, and California has Bodega Bay.

And Tampa Bay was the original name for the city that would later become the City of Tampa. yes really

The name Tampa Bay first appeared on maps to describe the body of water in the 1760s, when Britain bought Florida from Spain and began “anglicizing Florida,” Kite-Powell said. Then, when Fort Brooke was established near what is now Water Street in the 1820s, the army named the land Tampa Bay.

“If you want to refer to an area that predates the city’s existence, what would you call the Greater Fort Brooke area?” University of South Florida librarian Andy Huse said.

On November 21, 1831, the first post office opened in the area.

“The Post Office was originally established in Tampa Bay,” said US Postal historian Jenny Lynch. “On September 13, 1834, the post office was renamed Tampa.”

However, the letter continued to refer to the area as Tampa Bay.

The University of Oklahoma has 127 pages of letters to and from Fort Brooke from 1837 to 1839. The Times calculated that Tampa Bay was used as a timeline or regional descriptor 77 times and Tampa 24 times.

Tampa was established as a town in 1849, organized as a town in 1853, and incorporated as a city in 1887.

Nonetheless, “numerous letters and maps from the 1840s to the mid-1880s referred to Tampa Bay in a comprehensive way, both in a military context and as a potential tourist destination,” Kite-Powell said. “The explosive growth of the mid-1880s coincided with a decline in Tampa Bay’s use as a local identifier.”

Even then, Tampa’s first major tourist attraction was named the Tampa Bay Hotel when it opened in 1891. Today, that building is part of the University of Tampa campus.

Then, in 1912, lands previously part of Hillsborough were incorporated into Pinellas, and the new county sought to establish its own identity.


Tampa Bay continued to be used to describe the area into the early 1900s, but Suncoast emerged as Pinellas’ tourism brand in the 1960s. Citizens and government agencies have also adopted it.

The term is still used by county transportation authorities and fire and rescue districts serving Belleair Beach, Belleair Shore, Indian Rocks Beach and Indian Shores . However, Suncoast has been phased out of tourism brands, primarily due to Tampa Bay’s popularity.

The late Leonard Levy, who helped bring the Buccaneers to Tampa, once told the Times that football is behind the national use of the term Tampa Bay. Business and political leaders worried that Tampa was too small for the NFL, but St. We knew we could get a team by marketing the region, which included Petersburg and Clearwater. That’s why when the NFL awarded the city a franchise in 1974, the team was named the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rather than the Tampa Buccaneers.

The addition of other sports teams further strengthened the name.

The Lighting is from Tampa, the Rowdies and Rays are from St. Petersburg, but each is called Tampa Bay as a marketing effort to engender a fandom on both sides of the bridge.

“I don’t even like our sports teams going to Tampa Bay. It should be the Tampa Buccaneers and the Tampa Lightning,” Chris Espinosa said on Facebook.

Núñez saw the Rays and the Rowdies beat St. Louis. I think you should use Petersburg. “Let them promote their city,” he said.

Busch Gardens added Tampa Bay to its name in 1993, and Tampa’s Convention Center added it in 2001. St. The Petersburg Times became the Tampa Bay Times in 2012. The Port of Tampa changed its name to Port Tampa Bay in 2014.

Núñez said. “It’s easy to say. Hey, hey Tampa Bay. Good day Tampa Bay. Okay. But it replaced Tampa.”

At least Tampa has the name Tampa Bay. said Manny Leto, Executive Director of Preserve the ‘Burg’, which works to protect St. Petersburg’s historic buildings. “St. Pete has a different feel and vibe than Tampa and is not particularly interested in tying himself to Tampa. Many St. Pete people I know prefer their city to Tampa Bay.”

This was evident in 2012 when St. Petersburg’s mail processing center was relocated to Tampa and the US Postal Service announced that mail from St. Petersburg would be stamped with Tampa or another postmark reflecting the region, such as Tampa Bay.

City, business and civic leaders voiced opposition, saying the measure would strip St. Petersburg of its identity. The decision has been overturned.

Still, Tampa native Leto said of the Tampa Bay debate, “I feel like I hear it more in Tampa.”

But in 2019, Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long wrote a Times op-ed rebuking the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council, Tampa Bay Chamber, and other Hillsborough-only organizations for using Tampa Bay.

“The name ‘Tampa Bay’ should be used to represent all of us—Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties,” she wrote. “Especially for problems where local strategies can provide the greatest returns.”

Visit St. Pete/Clearwater’s Hayes said his agency preferred city marketing. However, sometimes I feel the need to explain that the city is part of the Tampa Bay area due to the amount of exposure a sports team receives depending on the audience, especially the international market.

That’s what Harrison of Visit Tampa Bay wants locals to embrace. The cities of Hillsborough and Pinellas are unique as individuals, but stronger as a collective known as Tampa Bay when it comes to promoting the area.

“The name lives on in the minds of people living outside the area,” he said. “Obviously, who we market to.

Núñez is unmoved.

I will say this until I am out of breath.” “I was born in the old St. Joseph’s Hospital. was in Tampa. It was not in a body of water. The debate is over.”

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