Not too long ago, the Tampa Bay Lightning were still an oddity in Florida. Even if the team won a Stanley Cup back in 2004 and have existed for nearly 25 years, the Lightning were struggling to establish a solid fan base.
That was until the team was bought by Jeffrey Vinik.
Vinik bought the team and the lease to the arena back in 2010 for $110M, a laughable amount for a professional sport franchise. The franchise had been losing money and the previous owners, Oren Koules and Len Barry, had taken strange decisions in the management of their team.
Since then, Vinnik, who has a grand development plan for the city of Tampa, has accomplished his goal: transform the team in a world-class organization, both on the ice and off of it. One thing he can say is mission accomplished.
On the ice, Tampa just reached the Stanley Cup Finals and, with a very strong and young core group, seems to be poised for some good runs in the coming years.
Off of it, the excitement around the team has never been as high. For the first game of the Cup finals, the local TV rating was 18. Back in 2003, the year they won the Cup, that number was in the single digits according to The Hockey News.
The funniest part though might be how he became the Lightning's owner. At 50 years old and already having a fortune in his bank acount, Vinik was looking for something new.
He and a friend were talking over a couple glasses of wine one evening when he decided his future would be as an NHL owner. So the next day, he really did this: he got up, fired up his computer and Googled, ‘How to buy a professional sports team.’
“It was five steps, it was easy,” Vinik said. “No. 1 was ‘Be rich’ ”, Vinik said to The Hockey News
Next time you want something folks, just google it... and hope the first step isn't "be rich"