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Tentative deal reached over Hernando airport name

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Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 09:30 PM

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TAMPA -

It took filing a federal lawsuit, setting aside $400,000 for potential court costs and mediation efforts that ran into the late hours Wednesday, but the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority might have resolved its challenge of Hernando County's decision to rename its general aviation airfield.

The solution, in a word: "Bay."

The airfield, renamed by the Hernando County Commission as the Brooksville-Tampa Regional Airport in October, is expected to be called Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport.

Hernando commissioners are scheduled to vote Tuesday on the revised name negotiated during the mediation session. The Hillsborough Aviation Authority is scheduled to discuss the agreement in a closed meeting March 1.

"This is a win-win all the way around, and I'm just as proud as I can be of both sides in the negotiating teams," Hernando County Commission Chairman Dave Russell told Hernando Today.

Tampa International Airport spokeswoman Janet Zink said the airport won't comment on the mediation because "discussing it is strictly prohibited by the court."

It's not known how much either party spent on legal fees in the lawsuit.

The Hillsborough Aviation Authority board in January voted to spend up to $400,000 to fight the name change, which Tampa airport officials said would diminish the value of its brand.

The two airports are about 45 miles apart and have few similarities.

Tampa International serves 17 million passengers annually, plus corporate and general aviation services. The airport south of Brooksville, used by the Army Air Forces during World War II, has no commercial airline service.

In an unrelated matter, the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority board will discuss in an open session March 1 an issue stemming from reports that Tampa International chief executive Joe Lopano could return to Dallas.

Lopano has been mentioned in Texas and local news reports as a possible candidate to succeed his former boss, Jeff Fegan, who is retiring as the head of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

But Lopano has not applied for the job in Texas, where a search committee has not begun recruitment efforts, Zink said.


tjackovics@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7817

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