Tampa Bay Lightning set to announce Tod Leiweke as new chief executive officer
The Tampa Bay Lightning apparently is preparing to announce that Tod Leiweke, the long-time chief executive officer of the NFL's Seahawks, will be the Lightning's new CEO. Leiweke could not immediately be reached for comment and the Lightning declined comment.
Lightning owner Jeff Vinik has been after Leiweke for a long time. In fact, he was one of the first names to surface when the CEO search got started in March. At the time, Leiweke said he was not a candidate for the job, saying he had too much work to do in Seattle, where he has been since June 2003. But as with the NFL training camps about to begin, perhaps that work was finished.
Leiweke, 50, has an impressive track record. Lightning fans probably will like that in 2005 the Seahawks won NFL's Sports Fan's Quality Award as the league's "fan friendliest" team. Before joining the Seahawks, Leiweke was president of the NHL's Wild and chief operating officer of Minnesota Sports & Entertainment. In a 2003 ESPN survey, the Wild's Xcel Energy Center was ranked tops for stadium experience.
In Minnesota, Leiweke worked closely with Jac Sperling, who was the team's vice chairman and minority owner. Sperling, now a financial and corporate adviser, has been helping Vinik in the CEO search and was part of the search for a general manager, a position filled by Steve Yzerman.
The CEO search actually lost some juice when Yzerman was hired. The original plan was for the general manager to answer to the CEO who would report to Vinik. But as part of the negotiations to bring Yzerman in, the general manager now reports directly to the owner. It is believed Leiweke's duties will primarily be to run the St. Pete Times Forum and handle the business aspects of the team.