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Hillsborough County asked to split Amalie Arena renovation costs

Published Feb. 28, 2015

TAMPA — Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik wants to spend $25 million on renovations to Amalie Arena, and he wants Hillsborough County to split the cost.

Commissioners are scheduled Wednesday to consider spending an additional $12.5 million to improve infrastructure in the county-owned facility.

Since 2006, the county has put $35 million into the arena as part of an agreement with a former owner. The fifth cent of the tourist tax helped fund those repairs and improvements. It would also help cover these renovations, commissioner Ken Hagan said Friday.

"I anticipate approval by the board," Hagan said. "At this point it truly is a no-brainer."

Vinik is fronting $25 million, half of which the county would later reimburse, team president Steve Griggs said Friday.

Vinik's half would cover "fan-related experiences" that the franchise will reveal sometime after the commission meeting. The county's half would cover facility systems and structural items, like plumbing and electricity, in need of repair, Griggs said.

"The reason we do this is because we own the building and we want to make sure he keeps it in tip-top shape," Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill said.

Hagan agreed and said the commission needs to invest in Amalie Arena if the county wants to continue to attract national events to Tampa.

"In order to compete and win, we have to continue to invest in this county-owned facility," Hagan said. "It's incumbent on us to come up with a long-term strategy."

Contact Zack Peterson at zpeterson@tampabay.com. Follow @zackpeterson918.