TAMPA — Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik announced Friday that he belongs to a group of local investors who loaned $12 million to help refinance the Times Publishing Co., which owns the Tampa Bay Times.
"I am happy to confirm that I am part of the investor group, FBN Partners, which recently formed to support the Tampa Bay Times," Vinik said in a statement.
"The Times is a critical local institution and a voice for our community. As Tampa Bay continues to grow and emerge as one of the most significant metropolitan areas in the Southeast, I believe that it is important to have a strong, locally owned and operated newspaper, with the resources necessary to retain its independent voice and place as one of the nation's best."
Paul Tash, the chairman and CEO of the Times and the Times Publishing Co., announced June 30 that an investor group called FBN Partners took out a mortgage on the buildings and 27 acres at the newspaper's printing facilities in central St. Petersburg.
Some members of the group agreed to be identified, but others wished to remain anonymous. Vinik is the first of those members to announce publicly his investment in the Times, though he did not disclose the amount.
The other named investors include philanthropists Frank and Carol Morsani; developer Ted Couch; and investor Robert Rothman, part owner of the Washington Redskins; and Tash and his wife, Karyn.
The group named itself after the Times' slogan "Florida's Best Newspaper." The loan does not give these investors a share of the newspaper itself, Tash has said, or a say in its news coverage and editorial opinions.