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Sunday, Sep 23, 2018
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Top 5 at noon: Tourism could boost Rays stadium plans; St. Patrick’s Day events; and more

Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com:

WHY HILLSBOROUGH’S RECORD TOURISM YEAR MAY HELP BUILD A RAYS BALLPARK IN YBOR CITY

For the first time, visitors staying overnight in Hillsborough County hotels, motels and other short-term rentals spent more than $600 million in a calendar year. The record-setting year means Hillsborough is now a "high-impact tourism" county, meaning county leaders can decide to raise the tax collected on each night’s stay to 6 cents per dollar spent, Steve Contorno write. The tax, called the Tourist Development Tax or sometimes the room tax, currently sits at 5 cents per dollar spent. For the elected officials who want to see the Tampa Bay Rays move to Ybor City, it’s especially good news.

BUCS RE-SIGN RB PEYTON BARBER FOR 2018

The Bucs continue to finish their housekeeping in advance of the start of NFL free agency, re-signing running back Peyton Barber for the 2018 season. Barber, 24, who led the Bucs in rushing with 423 yards last season, was an exclusive-rights free agent, so all Tampa Bay needed to do to keep him was offer a one-year, league-minimum contract for $630,000. They did the same with cornerback Javien Elliott last week. Stay with tampabay.com for the latest on free agency.

PASCO MAN WANTS TO REPRESENT HIMSELF IN NEIGHBOR’S DEATH

Qiu Feng Ke told West Pasco Circuit Judge Mary Handsel Tuesday that he wants to represent himself during his upcoming murder trial. Qiu faces a charge of first-degree murder in the execution-style death of his neighbor on Jan. 23.

THE STATE YOU’RE IN: THESE FLORIDA NUDISTS JUST WANT THEIR MAIL

The other day some folks at a Florida nudist resort in Pasco County made headlines because, they said, their letter carrier refused to bring their mail inside the front gate. The residents of the clothing-optional Eden RV Resort in Hudson claim discrimination, Craig Pittman writes.

PARTIES, PARADES, PUB CRAWLS AND MORE FOR ST. PATRICK’S DAY IN TAMPA BAY

Tampa cracked the top 10 this year in Wallethub’s list of the best cities in the country for St. Patrick’s Day parties — No. 8, in fact — thanks to its many Irish bars and pubs, not to mention traditions like dyeing the Hillsborough River green and letting the Rough Riders take over Ybor City with a big parade. Check out our list of St. Patrick’s Day events coming up.

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