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Lightning, Lakewood Ranch team up to extend their brands throughout Florida and beyond

by Peter Pupello / Tampa Bay Lightning

Just as the Tampa Bay Lightning are seeking to extend their brand of hockey throughout regions of Florida outlying the Bay Area, developers at Lakewood Ranch are attempting to just as much draw hockey fans from all over North America to live and work in Sarasota and Manatee Counties.

As a result of a press conference held Friday at Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club announcing a unique and exciting partnership between the two entities, each organization will now have the opportunity to do just that.

At noon, Tampa Bay Lightning CEO Tod Leiweke and vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman, along with president of Lakewood Ranch commercial, Brian Kennelly, and president and CEO of Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, Rex Jensen, announce details of the deal, which officials say will expand the Lakewood Ranch brand name and grow its market.

What better way to do that, Leiweke said at the podium, than to partner with the Lightning, which always welcomes the opportunity to expand its own footprint in the community.

“We really felt that having a world class commercial and residential development in one of our key target growth communities will allow us to better support existing fans in the area and touch new fans as we grow the Lightning brand,” Leiweke said. “For the folks at Lakewood Ranch, well, we hope they can serve as ambassadors for the Tampa Bay Lightning and our team’s visiting fans. They’re an important part of what we do so we felt it was time to plant the flag and welcome them in as part of our team.”

The idea is that by bringing Lakewood Ranch into the forefront at Lightning home games and on television broadcasts, fans both in and around Tampa Bay, in addition to those visiting or watching from northern climates, will consider relocating in the region.

In addition, by using the team’s reach in key northern markets, Lakewood Ranch secures the chance to grow its residential and commercial real-estate businesses. The Lightning name will also become a visible presence around Lakewood Ranch.

This is really a great partnership that allows both of us to expose our brands and seek out new opportunities to create jobs. - Todd Pokrywa, VP of Planning for Schroeder-Manatee Ranch

“This is really a great partnership that allows both of us to expose our brands and seek out new opportunities to create jobs,” said Todd Pokrywa, vice president of planning for Schroeder-Manatee Ranch. “Both Tod Leiweke and myself saw some potential to grow in our target markets here in the area.”

Terms laid out in the deal include an ad displaying the Lakewood Ranch name and logo on the boards of the ice rink at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, a new "Lakewood Ranch Client Services Lounge" debuting Saturday at the arena, an in-game feature celebrating community heroes and sponsored by Lakewood Ranch, two Lakewood Ranch-sponsored home games each season and a Lightning and NHL alumni golf tournament to be held in Lakewood Ranch in the next two years to benefit a local charity.

More importantly, however, the relationship is about creating and fostering strong relationships among community partners, and having them work together to both better their business and those affected by it.

“We're trying to expand,” Yzerman said in his closing remarks. “We reach out to other areas and hopefully provide a benefit to them, not only entertainment and love of the game, but an opportunity for them to capitalize on the business synergy of it as well.”

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