SBD/February 3, 2011/Facilities

Lightning Unveil Planned $35M Renovation Of St. Pete Times Forum

Renovated St. Pete Times Forum to include new outdoor party deck
Lightning officials yesterday "detailed $35 million in renovations to the St. Pete Times Forum," saying that the upgrades "will improve the fan experience and continue to attract other events to the arena," according to Lee Logan of the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES. The renovations include an "11,000-square-foot outdoor party deck with a view of downtown" that "will feature 10 areas where fans can buy food and drink and a small stage for postgame events." Also included are an "indoor stage and bar with an old-time pipe organ carved into the arena's upper section." To "make room, the team will remove 574 seats currently located behind the stage during concerts at the Forum." Another feature is a "large lightning bolt that will light up during player introductions and when the team scores." Most of the features "will be in place by next season, though an upgraded west entrance could take a bit longer." Logan notes the renovation also includes "less flashy elements such as replacing the arena's heating and cooling system, upgrading lighting and installing all new seats." Concourses, suites and the locker room "also will get a facelift," and eight suites "will be removed to give better views of the game for fans walking the concourse." Lightning CEO & Minority Owner Tod Leiweke said that the team "will pay for the work upfront and seek partial reimbursement from Hillsborough County tourist taxes," and that the renovations "come without condition and will continue even if the county doesn't come up with the cash" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 2/3). Leiweke added that the renovations "will not spark ticket increases." Leiweke: "This is not a ploy to achieve a double-digit price increase." He also said the arena is "going to have a great sense of space" (TAMPABAY.com, 2/2).

CHARITABLE GIVING: Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik and his wife, Penny, are donating more than $10M through the Lightning Foundation over the next five years. More than $2M will be granted by the foundation each season, utilizing two different programs established by the organization. The first program, "Lightning Community Partners: Giving Back Through the Power of Partnerships," will present four $200,000 grants to major charities in the Tampa area for five years beginning with the '11-12 season. The second program, "Lightning Community Heroes: Honoring Tampa Bay's Community Heroes," will present 25 $50,000 awards to individuals and their representative 501 (c) 3 organizations for the next five years beginning with next season. The Lightning additionally are pledging 4,000 hours of volunteerism from full-time staff each calendar year under the team's "All in For Our Community" program (Lightning).
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