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Lightning COO Sean Henry resigns

5

November

More of a behind the scenes kind of thing but Sean Henry, the Lightning's chief operating officer has resigned, effective Dec. 12. This is certainly part of the ongoing restructuring that has gone on since OK Hockey bought the team in June.

Henry was responsible for all business activities, business development, building improvements, government relations and facility and event operations. In short, he was in great part responsible for making the St. Pete Times Forum one of the nation's busiest venues.

In an e-mail, Henry said OK Hockey asked him to stay on but said, "I thought it was best for me to move on to the next opportunity."

There was no immediate word on a replacement, though Brian Rogers, one of the financial brains from owner Len Barrie's Bear Mountain resort, is expected to take at least some of Henry's responsibilities. Other internal department heads also will be given more responsibility.

Here is the release from the team:

Sean Henry, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the St. Pete Times Forum, has resigned, the club announced today. Henry, who joined the Lightning in the summer of 1999, will remain with the team through December 12, 2008. He had been responsible for all business activities, business development, building improvements, governmental relations and facility and event operations.

Henry’s departure date will come almost six months to the day after Oren Koules, Len Barrie and six other investors purchased the Lightning, the leasehold rights to the St. Pete Times Forum and 5.5 acres of land in Tampa’s Channelside District from William Davidson. As agreed upon at that time, Henry worked to lead the transition of the team and its business interests from one ownership group to another before his departure.

“Speaking for our entire ownership group, we’d like to thank Sean for his dedication and efforts in making the ownership transition a smooth one for all involved, including our sponsors, season ticket holders, community partners and staff,” said Oren Koules, CEO and governor of the Lightning and the Times Forum. “His talents and leadership will be missed as we move forward, but we believe Sean has helped lay a foundation for the company to be successful for years to come.”

Beginning with the 1999-2000 NHL season, Henry led a revenue team that scored several off-ice wins for the Lightning over several years. The tenure was highlighted by increases in ticket and sponsorship revenue every season and the construction and development of an all-inclusive premium seating area (originally called the XO Club) that has become the nationwide standard in venue renovation and new construction and development.

He also has led an arena management and event operations department which helped the company turn the St. Pete Times Forum into one of the busiest and best marketed venues in the world year after year, while securing $35 million of county tourist tax dollars earmarked over 14 years to help keep the arena at the nation’s forefront, maintaining its competitiveness in competing for events with newer venues.

While working for Palace Sports & Entertainment (the Lightning’s parent company under William Davidson) from the St. Pete Times Forum, Henry oversaw the purchase, operation and development of the Asheville Tourists, a Class-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.

“It’s never easy saying goodbye, especially to an organization that has been such a special part of my life and the lives of my wife and children for such a long time,” said Henry upon resigning. “As the transition continues, and even beyond it, I remain committed to doing what is right for the Lightning, the St. Pete Times Forum and the Tampa Bay community.

“I thank Ron Campbell and Tom Wilson for offering me great opportunities in Tampa Bay and I thank Oren Koules, Len Barrie and their partners for letting me move on to another chapter in my business career on my own terms.”

[Last modified: Sunday, August 16, 2009 4:38pm]

    

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