TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning announced its new eight-man ownership group this morning, bringing together a team of leadership which will combine its extensive resources and diverse backgrounds to take control of the Lightning, the leasehold rights to the St. Pete Times Forum and approximately 5.5 acres of adjacent land in downtown Tampa’s Channelside District. The group, led by Hollywood producer Oren Koules and former NHL player and current real estate developer Len Barrie, expects to close on its purchase from Bill Davidson and Palace Sports & Entertainment on June 30.
“This is a great day for Tampa Bay and for the Lightning,” said Koules. “There is a wonderful foundation for hockey in this community; a great fan base and a former Stanley Cup winning team led by Vincent Lecavalier
and Martin St. Louis
. Our group’s primary goal is to win hockey games and compete for championships on a regular basis. And we look to further develop the community foundation Palace Sports has established in Tampa Bay.”
“We have put together a great, passionate ownership team,” said Barrie. “All eight of the members bring something unique to the partnership and we’re confident we can work together to improve upon what’s already been established in the organization’s 15 years. We want to bring the fans of Tampa more championships and an organization it will be proud of for many, many years.”
In addition to Koules and Barrie, the Lightning’s ownership team includes another Hollywood producer and partner of Koules’ at Evolution Entertainment, Mark Burg, attorney and investment banker Russell Belinsky, advertising executive Jordan Zimmerman, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Richard C. Lehman, furniture retailer and chief executive officer of Kane’s Furniture Irwin Novack, and Craig Sher, Executive Chairman of St. Petersburg-based The Sembler Company. Zimmerman and Lehman are also minority investors in the Florida Panthers. Multiple minority ownership interests are permitted by the NHL Constitution.The ownership group looks forward to a productive summer, one which will include the announcement of a new head coach and a busy free agency signing period, beginning July 1. New Lightning No. 1 draft choice Steven Stamkos will be introduced to the fans and the media in Tampa Bay later this week and a town hall meeting for Lightning fans with the ownership will be scheduled for later in the summer.