On March 3, 2010 Jeff Vinik purchased the Tampa Bay Lightning. He had many plans for the franchise to be successful on and off the ice. He hired long time Red Wing, Steve Yzerman to become the General Manger and put together a winning team on the ice. Creating a world class fan experience approach was priority upon arrival.
Community service truly defines character and commitment to a community. The Lightning organization have compiled 4,000 hours of community service each year through a program called, C.H.A.R.G.E (Contributing Hours Across our Region through our Generous Employees).
“Everyone in the organization thinks community first, so doing this work is a natural for us. We also believe, that with our public position in Tampa Bay, it’s our job to lead others into the idea of philanthropy and giving back. Our executive team serves on non-profit boards, and we host fundraising events in the Times Forum. Hopefully we can inspire others in the community to do the same types of things,” said Vinik.
The Vinik family has also contributed millions of dollars to the Lightning Community Heroes program to make it possible for one local hero and a representing charity to be awarded with $50,000 at each home game. The Florida Aquarium and other no-profit organizations have also been blessed with the Vinik’s contributions and involvement.
“My wife, Penny, and I have long believed in giving back and lifting up others. We were able to do that in the Boston area and now that Tampa Bay is our home, we enjoy doing the same thing here,” he said.
During high school and college, students participate in community service events through their clubs and organizations. Getting involved and helping out others looks good on the resume, yes, but it is far more important to realize the boost of encouragement to those around the community who need it most.
“Getting involved with your community is easy and it lifts you up. Most of all, its infectious; the more you do the more you want to do. I encourage everyone to volunteer some time to a charity that they might be attracted to just once. Its very rewarding and I think you’ll be looking to do more,” he added.
The sport industry holds many opportunities for students to jump into right away. Starting as soon as possible will be beneficial in the long run, because there are candidates who want the job just as much as anybody else competing for a particular position. Teamworkonline.com and LinkedIn.com are great starting areas to start categorizing and planning for the future and connecting with professionals already in the business.
“In the three years that I have been involved in sports (owning the Lightning), one thing I have found is that there are a lot of bright, hard-working people looking to get into the profession. The quicker you can start interning and establishing the relationships the better. Don’t wait until after you have a degree in your hands to look for that first internship,” stated the Lightning owner.
Vinik has put together over $42 million in renovation to the Tampa Bay Times Forum. A new scoreboard, party deck, pipe organ, suite upgrades, art work, main entrance and much more. The improvements are made especially for the satisfaction towards the goal of fan experience. More improvements won’t be necessary for a long time coming.
“Our chandelier got hung this past summer after the Republican National Convention moved out. We then hung the largest arena scoreboard in the country with a screen that is 50 feet wide, running from blue line to blue line. We’ll continue to work on some capital projects each summer, but we don’t foresee anything at this point that rivals the extensive work we have completed over the past two summers,” said the man that made all of the renovation possible.
Vinik’s advice to students is well-worthy and his contributions to the community continue to grow. An all around class act, both from an NHL stand point and as a community leader. On Tuesday, March 19th, Vinik was the key note speaker at the Pasco EDC event at Saint Leo University in TECO Hall.
A special thank you to Saint Leo President, Arthur Kirk and Bill Wickett, Executive Vice President of Communications for the Lightning, for making this article possible.