Tod Leiweke (left), Tim Marcum (center) and Jerry B. Kurz (right) welcome the new Lightning-Storm partnership on Thursday, January 13, 2011 while at a press conference at the St. Pete Times Forum (photo: Scott Audette)
TBSE Football, LLC, a subsidiary of Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment LLC, under the leadership of chairman Jeff Vinik, announced the purchase today of the Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena Football League. Terms of the sale were not disclosed. TBSE Football, LLC purchased the franchise from Tampa Bay Storm Partners, LLC, whose chief executive officer is Todd Boren. Under the new ownership, Tim Marcum will remain as the team’s head coach and general manager. Elmer Straub, Vice President of Event Booking for the St. Pete Times Forum, will serve on the Board of Directors for all Arena Football League matters.
“As our business in Tampa Bay evolves and we deepen our commitment to the community, we believe it makes sense to bring the Storm under the Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment umbrella,” said Vinik upon making the announcement. “The team is an asset for Tampa Bay and its sports fans and we want to ensure its stability and position in the Arena Football League for the good of our community. At TBSE, we look forward to even more significant announcements in the future, further illustrating our intentions for Tampa Bay.”
Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment LLC, a company controlled by Jeff Vinik, closed on its purchase of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the leasehold rights to the St. Pete Times Forum and ownership of adjacent real estate on March 3, 2010. The Lightning subsequently named Steve Yzerman to be vice president and general manager and Tod Leiweke to be chief executive officer.
“It's an honor to partner with an organization that has such a celebrated legacy such as the Tampa Bay Lightning,” AFL commissioner Jerry B. Kurz added. “We are truly excited to add Jeff Vinik and Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment to the Arena Football League today. Mr. Vinik brings a long-time passion for the sports and entertainment industry to the AFL and it is tremendous to welcome a group with football expertise brought by Tod Leiweke, having previously served as the CEO of the National Football League's Seattle Seahawks.”
Vinik, 51, is the governor and chairman of the Tampa Bay Lightning, as well as founder and chairman of Vinik Asset Management and a minority owner of Fenway Sports Group, parent company of Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Mr. Vinik to the Tampa Bay Storm family as he joins us in our quest for a sixth World Championship,” Marcum said. “Under his leadership, I am confident the team will be able to develop and sustain a high degree of stability, while consistently providing our fans with an excellent and exciting product on the field.”
The Storm were initially founded in 1987 as the Pittsburgh Gladiators, one of four original AFL franchises. The team relocated to Tampa Bay on November 15, 1990, where it has since been universally recognized as one of the leading teams in the AFL, setting numerous attendance records in its 23 years. The team won world championships in 1991, 1993, 1995, 1996 and 2003, winning the last championship in front of a sell-out crowd of 20,496 at the St. Pete Times Forum.
The team will kick off its season in March, just seven months removed from appearing in a league-record eighth Arena Bowl championship game.
Tampa Bay Sports And Entertainment LLC Finalizes Purchase Of Tampa Bay StormJeff Vinik Controlled Company Becomes Owner of Five-Time AFL World Champions.