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'A quirky identity crisis'


© St. Petersburg Times, published January 26, 2001

Thousands of media types descend on the Tampa Bay area this week to cover Super Bowl XXXV. George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel, on the Tampa Bay area's identity crisis:

"Following Chamber of Commerce protocol, Tampa finds itself intent on living up to its marquee bluster despite a quirky identity crisis:

"Tampa Bay' is a nice catch-all phrase, a quick way to consolidate Tampa-St. Petersburg and Clearwater into one tidy dot on the map despite three distinctive identities and lingering acrimony from past turf wars. In fact, it was the National Football League marketing corps that coined the sports umbrella term Tampa Bay when they awarded it a fran-

chise. . . .

St. Petersburg has a flurry of seafood restaurants with early-bird specials, gift shops filled with knick-knacks, a large retirement community often cynically referred to as "God's waiting room,' and a professional baseball team in critical condition

Clearwater has its beaches along the Gulf of Mexico and the Church of Scientology as its distinctive backdrop.

. . . Everybody seems to be holding hands and singing Kumbaya these days, although the battle scars from previous skirmishes remain.

Among the walking wounded are two noted sports columnists, set to put their smoking guns away: (the Tampa Tribune's Tom) McEwen, who is retiring after this Super Bowl, and (the St. Petersburg Times' Hubert) Mizell, set to retire in May."

Diaz on some Tampa Bay area geography:

"Just a deep post pattern away from Raymond James Stadium is Tampa's dirty little secret, an unpretentious white building with purple trim.

Mons Venus, an adult entertainment club on N Dale Mabry Highway, has maintained a defiant attitude toward a city ban on nude lap dancing. . . . The Tanga Lounge also has a touchy-feely reputation. It happens to be directly across the hotel from the Hyatt Regency Westshore, where the Ravens are staying.

- Compiled by Sue Carlton and John Martin

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