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Jeff Vinik Wants To Build A Different Community

Lightning owner Jeff Vinik

On Monday, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik shared his vision about Tampa's Channelside District and downtown. But Vinik's goal is to make downtown more than just office buildings.

Before Vinik came to Tampa and bought the Lightning, he Googled 'how to buy a sports team'," he said. 

He decided he'd buy a hockey team. It's his favorite sport. He looked at teams in Buffalo, Jacksonville, Nashville, Dallas, Columbus, St. Louis,  a few that he doesn't remember, and Tampa. 

"It came down to: do I  want to move to Buffalo or Tampa?" he said. 

Vinik picked Tampa, partly, because he liked the community and saw an opportunity to tip the scale towards building a community. He's acquired properties that surround the Amalie Arena--where the hockey team plays--but he said he doesn't want the area to be an arena district. He wants it to be a livable urban district where the arena is an amenity. 

He wants the area to be a healthy place to live work and play. 

"That means we need a certain amount of hydration stations (water fountains), you need a certain amount of biophilia (plants), you need a certain amount of green space," he said. 

He said that if all he accomplishes is develop buildings, he's failed his mission. 

"What creates a special district is what happens on street level," he said. "That's the experiences and the stores and the culture and the [art] galleries."

Construction of the first phase of a two-phase development plan is scheduled to begin in 2016. 

Quincy J. Walters is a junior at USF, majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing. His interest in journalism spurred from the desire to convey compelling narratives. He has written for USF’s student paper, The Oracle and is currently the videographer for Creative Pinellas. If he’s not listening to NPR, he’s probably listening to Randy Newman.
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