The Tampa Bay Rays will not change their name, team president Auld says
Brian Auld told Pinellas County commissioners the team will not become the St. Petersburg Rays, but will work closely with the city on a marketing plan to increase the Rays' brand awareness.
The Tampa Bay Rays will not be changing their name to the St. Petersburg Rays.
That was the message from team president Brian Auld during a Pinellas County Commission work session on Thursday.
"The name of the team is the Tampa Bay Rays, and it's going to remain in the Tampa Bay Rays," Auld said.
Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker suggested the name change to members of the St. Petersburg City Council as part of the team's deal for a new stadium since it will partly be funded with taxpayer funds.
The team, along with St. Petersburg city officials and stadium developer Hines, provided an update on plans for a new stadium and redevelopment of the Historic Gas Plant District.
Auld said keeping Tampa Bay in the name is in the best interests of the region as a whole.
"The Lightning and the Buccaneers recognize this, too," Auld said. "It's absolutely vital to what we do. And we want to make sure that this entire project screams inclusive welcomeness to everyone, and Tampa Bay is the best way for us to do that."
"We look forward to a really robust partnership with Visit St. Pete Clearwater, and we want to do everything we can to make sure that partnership helps push out that message — that we are in Pinellas County, that we are in St. Petersburg, and that it's a great place to be."Rays President Brian Auld
Auld said he is working closely with the city from a marketing standpoint to ensure St. Petersburg's presence is recognized during the redevelopment process.
"(Mayor Ken Welch's) administration has pushed us hard, as has Visit St. Pete Clearwater and the county, to make sure moving forward, that we do a better job. And we will work as hard as we can on this, to avoid anyone calling it Tampa, to saying that we're in Tampa.
"There are a number of creative ways that we can get to that. We have committed to at least one game in St. Pete uniform. We would like for that to be more; due to complications with Major League Baseball's arrangements with people like Nike, we cannot get that commitment set in stone right now."
Auld said the team is working closely with Visit St. Pete Clearwater, the county's marketing arm, to increase brand awareness for the team.
"That's one very obvious way that we can do it is having a uniform that demonstrates that we're in St. Petersburg," Auld said. "We look forward to a really robust partnership with Visit St. Pete Clearwater, and we want to do everything we can to make sure that partnership helps push out that message — that we are in Pinellas County, that we are in St. Petersburg, and that it's a great place to be.
"But this whole project depends on visitors from throughout the region, and the team name being what it has been for 25 years now — with the exception of having removed the Devil back in 2008 — is going to remain the same."
WUSF staff writer Victor Joao Pina contributed to this report.