“Sticks of Fire” sounds like a fun slogan for the Tampa Bay Lightning, but the phrase and the team’s name are actually related to the Tampa Bay area in a different way.
High concentrations of lightning in the region led the native Calusa peoples to call it “Tanpa,” meaning “Sticks of Fire.” When Ponce de Leon explored the coast of Florida, he used the original name to describe the bay’s great harbor. Europeans looking for de Leon’s “great harbor” settled in the Tampa Bay area.
Over time the “n” in “Tanpa” became an “m,” giving us the present day name.
– Margaret Willard, The 100 Companies