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Thursday, Apr 26, 2018
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Street By Downtown Tampa Arena To Be Renamed Again

TAMPA - As they prepare for the opening of the new Tampa Bay History Center along the Garrison Channel, city officials want to return a nearby roadway to its original name. If the Tampa City Council approves the changes, Saint Pete Times Forum Drive will be renamed Old Water Street to highlight the role of the Channel District in Tampa's rich history. Over the years, the quarter-mile-long riverfront bend - now a one-way street running east from Franklin Street to Channelside Drive - has been known by many names. When the Tampa Bay Lightning's arena was built in 1992, the city renamed the road Ice Palace Drive, after the facility. In 2003, as part of the hockey team's $30 million deal with the St. Petersburg Times to rename the arena the St. Pete Times Forum, the city proposed renaming the road after the arena's new moniker.
At the time, city council members balked at the changes, questioning why the Lightning had included the street name in an amenities package without first getting city approval. "I don't think the city should be for sale to anybody," Councilman John Dingfelder said. As an alternative, Dingfelder proposed renaming the street for former Mayor Dick Greco. Greco, however, declined the offer. Eventually the council approved the changes with a caveat: street signs had to say "Saint" instead of "St." City officials said that using "St." would cause confusion when emergency crews respond to 911 calls. This time around, the change is expected to face much less opposition from council members; it would cost the city about $1,200 for the new signs. City officials said the St. Petersburg Times did not object to the proposed change. In 1997, the roadway was temporarily named Sesame Street by then-Mayor Greco to mark the arrival of the Broadway adaptation of the children's TV show "Sesame Street" at the arena. The three-story, $52 million history center, set to open this month, will take visitors from the Tampa Bay area's prehistory through the arrival of the Spanish explorers, the Seminole Indian wars, the Civil War, the coming of the railroad and the rise of the modern city.

Reporter Christian M. Wade can be reached at (813) 259-7679.

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