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The Lightning and Jeff Vinik invest in Ice Sports Forum

The best owner in sports drops $6 million to upgrade the team’s practice facilities.

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since he took over as owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2010, Jeff Vinik has been building the team into a perennial Stanley Cup contender. Not only through the on-ice product, but also in the facilities that surround the team. Today the team announced that Mr. Vinik and the Lightning will be investing $6 million in the Ice Sports Forum, the team’s practice facility located in Brandon.

So, what will the near equivalent of one-year of Ryan Callahan’s salary buy? According to the press release, the funds will allow the facility to expand the Lightning’s practice area from its current 5,500 square feet to approximately 18,000 square feet. That mammoth space will include new locker rooms, workout facilities, press area, and players lounge.

The team also announced that they are extending their lease at the ISF for another 10 years. This announcement quashes any idea that the Lightning might relocate their training facilities to the recently opened Florida Hospital Center Ice, a sprawling five-rink complex in Wesley Chapel.

The huge investment in the practice facility continues Mr. Vinik’s trend of plowing money into his team to make them a world-class organization. Last year, GeoFitz wrote about how the former hedge-fund manager has continued to improve the team and his adopted home town in the seven years since he purchased the team.

Groundbreaking on the renovations is scheduled to begin in September and the work is expected to be completed by March. The team has posted a few renderings of the proposed changes on their website.