Weekend Plans With Tod Leiweke: Lightning Game, Then Anna Maria Island
TOD LEIWEKE could get used to living in the Sunshine State. A sports business veteran who previously held high caliber positions with the Sounders, Trail Blazers, Seahawks, Wild, PGA Tour, Canucks and Warriors, he took his current role as Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment CEO just less than three years ago, and has relished in his Florida lifestyle. This weekend he will take in the Lightning’s game Friday night before heading off to his home away from home on Anna Maria Island for some paddle boarding and puppy training.
SECRET'S SAFE WITH ME: Friday night we play at home against the New Jersey Devils. The game is sold out and we’re very excited because it’s game No. 1 for our new head coach. … I have a secret hiding place here in the building -- my wife doesn’t even know where it is -- and that’s where I go watch games. She either will sit in Owner JEFF VINIK’s box or she’ll sit in the corporate box, but no one knows where my secret hiding place is. I found it this year. I get nervous during the games and I wouldn’t want to show anything but the appropriate style and grace. So if I go to my secret hiding place I can watch the game and say what I want and cheer anyway I want. It’s here in the building and it’s a seat that no one’s really aware it’s in the building. But I found it and that’s where I go hide. I watch the game: if we go down by two I’ll pace a little bit, but if we go up by two I’ll sometimes go back to the suite.
COTTAGE BY THE SEA: Saturday morning I’m going to get up and drive to Anna Maria Island where we have a little tiny cottage. That’s about an hour and 10 minute drive and it’s the first of the Barrier Islands on the Gulf. I’ll probably get a run in on the beach.
BEWARE OF SHARKS: If the water’s flat, I’ve taken up paddle boarding since I moved here. Standing on a paddle board you can actually see what’s going on in the water. As I took up paddle boarding, I started to swim in the Gulf a little less because of what I saw standing up on the paddle board. I’ve seen pretty much everything once. A lot of dolphins and I’ve seen sharks twice. Moving from Seattle to Tampa was quite a move. I used to love the mountains and go hike Tiger Mountain on the weekends. So what’s replaced that is paddle boarding. It took me a while to learn to do it. But now I love it.
TABLE FOR TWO: Saturday evening I’m going to my favorite restaurant, the Beach Bistro, where the owner SEAN MURPHY is just an avid hockey fan. It’s considered by many to be the finest local restaurant in all of Florida. They know my wine order -- they never ask me, they just always bring a bottle of suggested wine. My friend DAVID is the sommelier there. It’s a little tiny restaurant but it’s one of the most gracious, wonderful places. I’ve been going there since we moved here and the food is just consistently awesome.
THE RESET BUTTON: I love running and I do it without my shoes on. Anna Maria’s got a white-sand beach and it’s maybe the perfect running surface. It’s probably roundtrip about four or five miles. You’ve got to exercise and clear your head and mind. I think it’s a really important thing. These are businesses that can really be all engrossing, and I think it’s important to step away and to exercise your body and refresh your mind.
EASY LIKE SUNDAY MORNING: Sunday you get up and you can do any number of things in Anna Maria. If you get your exercise in, then you can think about going to breakfast at the Rod & Reel. It’s a little tiny island about six miles long and nine blocks wide; a wonderful place to spend a Sunday. I’ll be there with my wife and daughter. We have a dog and we just got a puppy on Thursday, so I’m sure it will be appropriate commotion. At the very end of the day we’ll drive back up to Tampa.