This would be a front page story if it wasn't speculative hearsay on my part. But when the Tampa Bay Lightning sent out a media advisory about a "major announcement" set for Friday in Sarasota County's Lakewood Ranch area, not only was my interest piqued but my mind was made up on what was going to be announced.
And seeing I have absolutely nothing to support what I'm thinking, and still want to get it out into the public sphere, I'm using the Raw Charge fanpost area...
So, as I stated, the Lightning have a "major announcement" set fo Friday in Lakewood Ranch. From the release:
ADVISORY: LIGHTNING, LAKEWOOD RANCH TO ANNOUNCE NEW PARTNERSHIP
What: The Tampa Bay Lightning and Lakewood Ranch will be announcing a new, unique partnership enabling both organizations to better grow and develop their brands.
Who: Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman, Lightning CEO Tod Leiweke, President and CEO of Schroeder-Manatee Ranch Rex Jensen and President of LWR Commercial Realty Brian Kennelly.
Where: Lakewood Ranch Golf & Country Club
7650 Legacy Boulevard
Lakewood Ranch, FL 34202
When: Friday, January 25 at noon
The Lightning’s mobile fan truck, Rolling Thunder, along with the Lightning Girls and ThunderBug will also be on hand for the major announcement.
Read it again, read who the key players are in this event - it's not just an advertising cooperative, it's not just a strategic alliance in marketing. This is big. And it's not just going to touch on the business side of things as Steve Yzerman will be taking time out to attend. If they wanted someone for press to add profile to a small-time event, a player, Dave Andreychuk or Phil Esposito would have been asked to participate.
Sow hat could it be?
I read over the language again, and my hunch just doesn't seem to fit... I think of the location and it doesn't seem right... But, again, I come back to who is involved and the realization Lakewood Ranch is a major development tract...
I can't shake the thought a hockey facility, team owned, attached to a larger development is what is set to be unveiled.
I could be wrong, certainly. I'm not married to the thought. To have a team-owned facility that far to the south doesn't make much sense from a day-to-day standpoint (Ice Sports Forum in Brandon is convenient in its location, Lakewood Ranch is a bit of a drive... That doesn't make it useful in that regard. But the Lightning at least holding training camp in the south extends their reach in the Bay area outside the immediate Pinellas/Hillsborough region.
Another thought would be an arena venue -- 7,000 seats or so -- with its prime intention being to host hockey of one type or another. That would make for a very unique partnership.
Whatever the case, with the executives from both sides who will be at the event on Friday, something new (construction related) just might be in the cards.
What do you think? Will this turn out to be just some overglorified advertising cooperative or something tangible?