Make us your home page
Instagram

Tampa Bay Lightning fall to NBA's Golden State Warriors in bid to be professional sports' best business team

The Tampa Bay Lightning fell short Wednesday night in its bid to be named the top professional sports business team of the year by SportsBusiness Journal, a national sports business industry publication.

Instead, the NBA champion Golden State Warriors won the honor, the franchise's second in three years, at the annual Sports Business Awards in New York City.

"It was an honor to be a finalist in the Sports Team of the Year category," Lightning CEO Steve Griggs said in a statement. "It's a testament to the great work performed by our employees over the past year.

"We congratulate the Golden State Warriors and will continue working diligently to deliver world class experiences to our fans and guests."

Griggs missed the Lightning's 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at home in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final to be in New York City for the award ceremony.

The Lightning represented the NHL in the category. The competition included three champions in their respective leagues: the NBA's Warriors, Major League Baseball's World Series champion Kansas City Royals and Major League Soccer's champion Portland Timbers.

Tampa Bay, which lost the Stanley Cup final in six games last season, and the Carolina Panthers, which lost Super Bowl 50, were the only finalists who fell just short of their league's respective championships. It's the first time the Lightning has been nominated for that honor by the sports business industry publication.

Boston hedge fund manager Jeff Vinik bought the Lightning in 2010 and has since spent millions rebuilding the team's roster and tens of millions renovating its home, the Amalie Arena. He has also rebuilt the franchise's reputation. Last season Jeff and Penny Vinik's Lightning foundation donated $3.1 million to 100 nonprofits.

Now his focus is on remaking the area around the arena. Jeff Vinik is planning a major $2 billion redevelopment of the 40 downtown acres he owns around the arena with Cascade Investment LLC, which is controlled by Microsoft founder Bill Gates. The first piece of that new development will be the University of South Florida's new 12-story downtown medical school tower.

To become SportsBusiness Journal's professional sports team of the year, franchises must display innovation in client and fan services, increased revenue, show social responsibility and brand enhancement.

Under Vinik's ownership, the Lightning were ranked No. 1 in last year's ESPN Ultimate Sports Rankings for stadium fan experience, the No. 1 team in the entire NHL and the third-best team among the major professional sports leagues.

"When Jeff Vinik bought that team, he changed the entire culture from top to bottom," said University of South Florida sports marketing professor Mike Mondello told the Tampa Bay Times earlier this week. "The fact that they've raised so much awareness for the sport in a nonhockey market sends a huge message. You go to any grocery store or mall and you see two times more Lightning merchandise than the (Tampa Bay) Rays or (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) combined, and that's no accident."

Success on the ice has also improved the teams' finances. For the first time in years, Lightning officials said they expect to generate a profit this season thanks to last year's playoff run to the Stanley Cup final. This season the team sold out all 41 home games, saw 97 percent of its full season ticket holders renew and sold out all 69 of its arena suites.

The Lightning were worth $260 million as of November 2015, according to Forbes magazine. The magazine also estimated team revenue at $121 million — a 23 percent increase in annualized value change.

"There are very few other owners I can think of that have created a fan base in a nonhockey market like this," Mondello told the Times earlier this week. "Vinik has created a new standard. It's something you're just starting to see the Bucs and Rays pick up on now."

Tampa Bay Lightning fall to NBA's Golden State Warriors in bid to be professional sports' best business team 05/18/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 18, 2016 11:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Higher Social Security payouts help Florida post a big jump in personal income

    Personal Finance

    Personal income grew 1.3 percent in Florida in the first quarter of this year, a four-way tie among all states for second-fastest growth behind Idaho.

  2. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and estranged wife Carole put Beach Drive condo on the market

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and his estranged wife, Carole, have put their Beach Drive condo on the market for $1.5 million.

    U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and his estranged wife, Carole, have put their Beach Drive condo in Parkshore Plaza on the market for $1.5 million. {Courtesy of Amy Lamb/Native House Photography]
  3. Trigaux: Task now is for Water Street Tampa to build an identity

    Business

    Adios, VinikVille! Hello Water Street Tampa.

    An aerial rendering of the $3 billion redevelopment project that Jeff Vinik and Strategic Property Partners plan on 50-plus acres around Amalie Arena.
[Rendering courtesy of Strategic Property Partners]
  4. Unlicensed contractor accused of faking death triggers policy change at Pinellas licensing board

    Local Government

    The unlicensed contractor accused of faking his death to avoid angry homeowners has triggered an immediate change in policy at the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board.

    Last year Glenn and Judith Holland said they paid a contractor thousands of dollars to renovate their future retirement home in Seminole. But when they tried to move in on Dec. 14, they said the home was in shambles and uninhabitable. They sent a text message to contractor Marc Anthony Perez at 12:36 p.m. looking for answers. Fourteen minutes later, they got back this text: "This is Marc's daughter, dad passed away on the 7th of December in a car accident. Sorry." Turns out Perez was still alive. Now the Hollands are suing him in Pinellas-Pasco circuit court. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  5. SeaWorld shares drop Monday to 2017 low after disclosure of federal subpoena

    Tourism

    The Orlando parent company of SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks saw its stock drop 3.5 percent Monday to $15.10, its lowest price of this year.

    Killer whales perform at Shamu Stadium at SeaWorld in Orlando in 2011, before public pressure was placed on the theme park company to curtail its orca shows.SeaWorld has since announced an end to the traditional killer whale entertainment  at its theme parks. [AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack]