TAMPA (FOX 13) - Tampa Bay Lightning owner and developer Jeffrey Vinik is focused on much more than just hockey these days. Not only is he focused on luring businesses from around the world to downtown Tampa, he's focused on wellness.
"If we could all walk a little bit more, myself included, it makes a huge difference in quality of life," Vinik tells Fox-13 News. "It helps businesses attract and retain employees."
That's why Strategic Property Partners, which is partnership between Vinik and Cascade Investment, has ambitious development renderings for Channelside that include bike paths, green spaces, public art, and lots of greenery.
Vinik's vision for developing the empty lots around Amalie Arena include residential housing, restaurants stores and businesses.
"Wellness is a huge social movement among millennials and empty nesters too," says Vinik, so he says it's a win-win for the area, especially since USF has already committed to moving their school of medicine there.
Vinik's investment in the area runs deep in just a few short years. Beyond his help turning the Lightning franchise around since acquiring it in 2010, he has committed to giving $10 million dollars through his Community Heroes campaign. The team gives away $50,000 at every home game and in an extended interview with Fox-13's Mark Wilson, Vinik was quick to show his humility when asked about it.
"I get all this credit, I get the fanfare, but there are countless people who spend their money and their time helping others and making a difference in other people's lives," Vinik told Mark. "We should be thanking them, it's fantastic."
Mark also asked him about the recent ESPN report that ranked the Tampa Bay Lightning as the top franchise in all of hockey and the third overall in sports, based on the team, ownership, fan relations, affordability and arena experience.
"What I really liked about that is that it is from the fan,s because that's what we focus on," Vinik says. "We focus on this community, serving this community. I love this sport of hockey, it's a great sport and there's no reason it can't be embraced in this town as much as it is in northern towns, and I think we're on the way to doing that."