Amalie Arena Updates
From the day Jeff Vinik took over ownership of the Tampa Bay Lightning he has gone out of his way to rebuild the arena and now Tampa Bay’s waterfront. Unlike other southern teams, the Lightning have proved themselves to be a real contender in the race for the Cup, and having one of the nicest arenas in the league.
Where else in the south can you get a double-double from Tim Horton’s and what other arena actually has lightning? I am a fan of Nikola Tesla, so going to an arena and seeing actual Tesla coils was a huge treat for me.
Prior to moving to Florida, I lived outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and was spoiled with the Consol Energy Center. I did not think another arena could compare until I came to Amalie Arena. Mind you at this time I had never been to the arena, yet I had somehow become a Season Ticket Member. I did not know what I going into, and had no idea the size of the jumbotron I would be walking into or the literal electricity of the fans.
They have plenty of reason to have that excitement. They have seen their arena undergo over $60 million in changes since Vinik took ownership in 2010, and their team go from the bottom to the top. The video scoreboard cost $5 million at was installed prior to the 2012-2013 lockout. It became the largest HD (1,296 lines of resolution), centre-hung scoreboard in any U.S. or Canadian arena at 28 feet high and 50 feet wide. To put it into perspective, it stretches from blue line to blue line. The endzone facing screens will be 28 feet high by 20 feet wide.
The summer prior, in 2011, the arena saw the addition of padded seating in the upper and lower bowls, the aforementioned Tesla coils, and the fan favourite pipe organ. Like the Tesla coils, the digital pipe organ start off home games, getting fans in the mood as sounds from the five keyboards blast out of 260 speakers.
The renovations also added the Bud Light Party Deck and the Firestick Grill, located in the Club Level. The best addition of all, was that none of these additions cost the taxpayers anything! It was all privately funded
This summer, the renovations will focus on the club level, including 140-160 new loge seats at the north end of the arena, new concession stands, and rebuilt washrooms to name a few. The club level will also get an upgrade to be able to host larger private and group events. The players will finally be reaping the benefits when they get upgraded locker rooms, something that has not been done since the arena opened in 1996. Media and hospitality spaces will also be updated as well.
The updates will take place at the end of this season and will last into the early fall with additional renovations taking place in the summer of 2016.
Vinik’s Updates to Tampa’s Waterfront
Jeff Vinik not only planes to upgrade Amalie Arena, but also downtown Tampa itself all without costing the taxpayers a penny. How is that possible? Financiers and the clever choice to use Kickstarter. If a person wants to donate money they can, if they have no interest in the project they do not have to, but more on that later.
Vinik’s ‘vison plan’ will cost $1 billion and will add near 3 million square feet of development along the city’s waterfront. It will be built in phases and take up to a decade to complete, but when it is finished it will house a new urban medical school, corporate headquarters, condos, hotels, meeting spaces, shops, and restaurants. The plan also wants to extend Tampa’s Riverwalk to the Tampa Bay History Center by adding a boardwalk along the mangroves of Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park. This will add spaces for boats and other recreational water uses.
“What we’re doing is completing the plan city planners dreamed up long ago,” Vinik told an approving throng of VIPs who gathered at his Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina for the glitzy unveiling. “We are creating a true 18-7, live, work, play and stay area,” said Vinik, who often jokes that he doesn’t say 24-7 because people need to sleep. “We want people to stay in an area with vibrancy, with energy, with fun.”
Vinik’s firm overseeing the project, Strategic Property Partners LLC, along with the primary financier Cascade Investments LLC, forsee the finished project adding many additions to the economy. That includes $900 million to the economy, create 3,700 jobs in Hillsborough County, and add $35 million in new tax revenue each year. That is one of the reasons why he is asking the public to ‘crowdsource’ the project. Much like the Kickstarter campaigns, the public can help fund the project at tampawaterfront2020.com.
I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA where I spent 21 years of my life before moving to Orlando, Florida. I started my hockey career as Keeper of Time for the California University of PA Vulcans hockey club during university. Now that I reside in Florida I cover the Tampa Bay Lightning.