TAMPA, Fla. (AP) --The St. Petersburg Times will pay more than $33 million over 12 years for the rights to rename a hockey rink for the newspaper, according to terms released Friday after questions were raised about the deal.
The Tampa Bay Lighting hockey team and the Times initially decided to keep the terms of Tuesday's agreement private. Both said the arena would be the only major sporting venue in the country named after a newspaper.
"Like most business contracts of such scope it had a confidentiality clause," said Paul Tash, editor and president of the Times. "The partners had to check with each other before they could release it. The Lightning checked with us and we had no objection at all."
The Times' contract with the professional hockey team renames the Ice Palace to the St. Pete Times Forum. The arena is in Tampa, across Tampa Bay from St. Petersburg on Florida's Gulf Coast.
The newspaper will pay $2.1 million the first year, with a 3 percent increase each year, plus $250,000 worth of advertising each year. Over 12 years, the deal is worth more than $33 million, including advertising. The deal includes an option for another 12 years, which would be worth an additional $52.7 million.
The deal has caused controversy, not only with their competition in Tampa, but with the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, a nonprofit training school for journalists that has a controlling interest in the Times.
"From a business standpoint, it may make lots of sense for the Times to take this significant marketing step and a competitive thrust into Tampa," said Bob Steele, director of ethics programs at the Poynter. "Journalistically, it raises a number of questions. The Times is in the position of reporting on itself as the nameholder of the arena."
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