TAMPA BAY – Tampa Bay Lightning Chief Executive Officer Tod Leiweke resigned today to become Chief Operating Officer of the National Football League, Lightning Chairman and Governor Jeff Vinik announced this morning. Vinik also announced that, effective immediately, Lightning President Steve Griggs has been named the organization’s Chief Executive Officer, reporting directly to Vinik. Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman will continue to report to Vinik on all hockey operations matters.
Leiweke has served Vinik and the Lightning for the past five years as part of an executive team brought to the Lightning by Vinik with the vision of building a world class franchise on and off the ice. During that time, the Lightning has become one of the NHL’s top franchises, winning the Eastern Conference Championship and advancing to the Stanley Cup Final in 2015 while reaching new heights off the ice.
"Tod has been instrumental in our franchise transformation and I am grateful for all his work and dedication,” said Vinik upon making the announcement. “During Tod’s five years with the Lightning, we have set our franchise on a trajectory for excellence with Steve Griggs and an outstanding management team working beside him every step of the way. Steve is ready for the additional responsibilities that come with being CEO, and, as a testament to Tod, we will not miss a beat moving forward.”
Griggs has spent 22 years in the sports industry, holding leadership roles with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, the Minnesota Wild and the Orlando Magic. He was recruited to the expansion Wild in 1999 by Leiweke, and headed up a sales and service effort that set records for an expansion team. In 2007, Griggs left Minnesota to become Executive Vice President for the Orlando Magic, and was one of the key executives helping design, develop and launch the Amway Center in 2010.
Shortly thereafter, Griggs left the Magic after being recruited again by Leiweke to return to his native sport of hockey, and to become Chief Operating Officer of the Lightning. Under Griggs’ leadership the Lightning’s business operations unit is achieving new highs, projecting a season ticket base of more than 13,000 for the upcoming 2015-16 season. Griggs was named president of the organization on April 7, 2014.
“While I am saddened that a good friend and mentor is leaving the Lightning for the National Football League, I’d like to thank him for all his work in positioning the franchise for continued excellence as we move forward,” said Griggs. “Tod is the best operator is team sports and he led an inspirational five-year brand and business transformation of the organization – we’ll work hard to maintain the great track that Tod has set down for the team and the Tampa Bay community.”
Leiweke has also been involved in the emergence of downtown Tampa’s south core with Strategic Property Partners, LLC, a development company controlled by Vinik and Kirkland, Washington’s Cascade Investment, LLC.
“The future of all things here in Tampa is bright due to great people like Jeff Vinik, Steve Griggs, Steve Yzerman and our leadership team,” said Leiweke as he prepares for an August transition from the Lightning and SPP to the NFL. “I want to thank Jeff and his family for allowing me to be a part of such a special group that has changed the course of this franchise. I am thankful for so many community friends and partners who bought into the idea of a community-based franchise and literally joined arms with us to save this team.
“Additionally, I believe the real estate project has the potential to forever change the city of Tampa and to become a best practice for other urban centers across America. I am grateful to Michael Larson of Cascade and to Jeff for allowing me to play a role in giving life to this initiative. I am excited to join the NFL and work with Roger Goodell in this unique national position, but I will always feel a part of this great community.