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Jeff Vinik borrows $102 million and mortgages the Lightning's lease on Amalie Arena

TAMPA — Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik recently borrowed $102 million from investment bank Goldman Sachs and mortgaged the team's lease on Amalie Arena as security for the loan, according to Hillsborough County public records.

Hillsborough County financed the construction of the arena, owns the building and leases it to the Lightning. Vinik plans to use the loan's proceeds in his various enterprises, which range from real estate development to picking stocks to investing directly in emerging technologies.

Asked on Monday whether he took out the mortgage, which is dated June 21, because any of his business ventures are struggling, a team spokesman said no.

"This funding is not intended to address any specific need," Lightning spokesman Bill Wickett said. In an emailed statement, he added, "with rates trading at a generational low, Jeff thought this would be an excellent time to take out a loan secured by the arena to be used in support of his various business interests."

Hillsborough County officials do not expect the loan or the mortgage to affect revenues the county receives under the lease.

"None of the terms (of the lease) are being modified or affected in any way," deputy county administrator and chief financial administrator Bonnie Wise said.

The team was "fully within its rights to do this," Wise said. It is seeking at least one approval related to the transaction from the county within 60 days of the closing. County officials are discussing whether that can be done administratively or would have to go to the County Commission and the Tampa Sports Authority, which is involved in the lease. If those two boards need to give their approval, that decision would probably go to the County Commission in August.

Besides the Lightning, which he bought in 2010 for an estimated price of $110 million, Vinik, 60, has a wide range of business interests, including:

Water Street Tampa, a $3 billion mixed-used project being built around Amalie Arena at the southern end of downtown Tampa. Vinik created the project's development company, Strategic Property Partners, by joining forces with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, through the tech billionaire's Cascade Investment private wealth fund. Plans call for the 53-acre project to include a new home for the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute, three Marriott hotels, downtown Tampa's first new office towers in more than 25 years, four residential projects and Sparkman Wharf, a re-invention of the old Channelside Bay Plaza entertainment complex with restaurants and more office space.

Vinik Asset Management, a hedge fund that Vinik ran from the late 1990s until 2013, when he shut it down. He announced in January that he was re-launching the fund, saying that "after six years of running my own money, the fire in my belly still burns."

• Significant stakes in ventures such as Silk Inc. of Boston, which formulates non-synthetic chemicals for the skin care and textile industries; Hissho Sushi in Charlotte, N.C., which supplies supermarkets, cafes and universities; Delos, a New York real estate company that builds health and wellness strategies into its projects; StemRad, an Israeli company that makes radiation protection gear for soldiers, first responders and astronauts; Turtle Beach, a maker of video game headsets whose business has been boosted by the popularity of Fortnite; and aXiomatic, a gaming and esports company based in Los Angeles.

• Putting $10 million into establishing Embarc Collective, a new innovation hub in the making a few blocks north of Amalie Arena, and $12 million into Dreamit Ventures, a tech accelerator that works with startups in health care, security and urban tech approaches to real estate, design and development.

Vinik also is part of FBN Partners, a group of local investors who in 2017 loaned $12 million to Times Publishing Co., which owns the Tampa Bay Times.

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Contact Richard Danielson at rdanielson@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times

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