Early on in the young 2011-12 season, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik is receiving as much positive media attention for his accomplishments as the team itself.
On Thursday, Vinik and his core of executives arrived at City Hall in Downtown Tampa to receive a commendation from the City of Tampa City Council and councilwoman Lisa Montelione. The honor recognized not only Vinik, but the entire Lightning organization for their accomplishments both on and off the ice.
“We’re very fortunate to receive such recognition,” Vinik said. “This is a testament to all of the hard work of the Lightning employees who each day help us achieve our vision of becoming world class.”
As the City Council meeting began promptly at 9 a.m., the commendation was the first order of business on the day’s docket.
Vinik, along with Lightning Chief Executive Officer Tod Leiweke, Chief Operating Officer Steve Griggs, Chief Financial Officer Martha Fuller and General Manager Steve Yzerman, took to the front of the room to receive a formal introduction from Montelione, which subsequently was accompanied by a loud roar of applause.
Included in the councilwoman’s opening remarks was the significant impact the organization has had upon the Tampa Bay community as a result of two initiatives revealing Vinik’s investment in the community.
First, Montelione spoke of the privately-funded, $40 million renovation project that the arena underwent over the summer in order to enhance both the event and gameday experience for all guests. She then mentioned the Lightning Community Heroes program, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the community on behalf of everyday individuals.
“It’s an honor to present Mr. Vinik and his staff on behalf the entire organization with this award today,” Montelione said as she addressed her fellow council members as well as the audience. “They deserve to be recognized for their outstanding accomplishments both in hockey and on the business side of their organization. In just a short time, they have had a tremendous positive impact on the city of Tampa.”
Vinik concluded the commendation with his own closing remarks in which he reiterated the organization’s long-term goals to compete at the highest level on the ice and to provide world class service off of it and at all events
In his address, however, he was as quick as he was humble to deflect praise upon the constituents who “really make up this great community.”
“My visibility as owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning has really allowed me, my wife and my family to make a difference in here in Tampa Bay,” Vinik added. “It has been a pleasure to think that we are succeeding in making a difference in people’s lives. Since I arrived here in Tampa, everyone has been terrific with their support, and I have nothing more to offer than thanks.”