Photo of Jeff Vinik, Businessman, Philanthropist, Owner of the 2020, 2021 Stanley Cup Winners, Tampa Bay Lightning,  Minority Owner of the Boston Red Sox

Jeff Vinik, Businessman, Philanthropist, Owner of the 2020, 2021 Stanley Cup Winners, Tampa Bay Lightning, Minority Owner of the Boston Red Sox

May 16, 2022

Jeff Vinik purchased the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 3, 2010, promising a comprehensive transformation of the franchise while pledging to make a significant positive impact in the Tampa Bay community, and he has delivered. Upon acquiring the Lightning, Vinik vowed to make the organization “world-class,” creating an unrivaled fan experience while putting together a team of which Tampa Bay sports fans would be proud, on and off the ice. Vinik and his franchise became Stanley Cup Champions on September 28, 2020 when the Lightning defeated the Dallas Stars in six games after spending 65 days in the pandemic-induced NHL “Bubble.” The Lightning repeated the feat, becoming just the second team since the turn of the century to go back-to-back, after downing the Montreal Canadiens in five games to capture a second-straight Stanley Cup on July 7, 2021.

As Vinik enters his 12th year of ownership, the Lightning are recognized nationally as one of the top organizations in North American sports, having appeared in the National Hockey League’s Eastern Conference Final/Stanley Cup Semifinal six times (2011, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2020 & 2021), advancing to the Stanley Cup Final three times (2015, 2020 & 2021), winning hockey’s ultimate prize in 2020 and 2021. Off the ice, the Lightning brand has been completely revitalized and transformed, having been lauded by both ESPN as the No. 1 team in professional sports in the media giant’s Ultimate Standings (also ranking in the Top 10 in six of seven years), as well as by the Sports Business Journal as one of five finalists for Sports Team of the Year in 2016 and 2020. The Lightning enjoyed 234-consecutive sellout crowds at AMALIE Arena from 2015-2020, a streak that was halted only by the COVID-19 pandemic. Vinik now sits as a member of the Executive Committee of the National Hockey League’s Board of Governors.

In executing his plan to bring a world class franchise to life in Tampa Bay, Vinik has invested more than $100 million in private funding into the publicly owned AMALIE Arena to create a guest-first facility recognized as one of the finest in the NHL. Additionally, under the umbrellas of the Vinik Family Foundation and the Lightning Foundation, Jeff and his wife Penny have invested nearly $40 million in Tampa Bay area charities through a variety of programs and donations, the most notable being the Lightning Community Heroes program, in which $50,000 is donated to worthy individuals and their non-profits of choice at each Bolts home game. Through the 2020-21 season, more than $23 million has been donated through the Community Heroes program to more than 750 local non-profits. He pledged another $10-million to continue the Hero program in the summer of 2021.

The Lightning’s success under Vinik has coincided with the emergence of a development company, Strategic Property Partners (SPP), LLC and its plan to develop approximately 60 acres in downtown Tampa’s south core into a new district entitled ‘Water Street Tampa’. SPP, a partnership between Vinik and Cascade Investment, LLC of Kirkland, Washington, is expecting to deliver approximately $3 billion in investment to bring Water Street Tampa to life and reinvent the blocks surrounding AMALIE Arena into a walkable, 24-7 live, work, play and stay wellness district. With phase one nearing completion, the district includes a School of Medicine for the University of South Florida, corporate office buildings, three Marriott hotel properties, residences, retail, restaurants, entertainment, and improved infrastructure.

Vinik is also the impetus behind Embarc Collective, an innovation hub which opened in downtown Tampa in 2019. Embarc formally brings together startup companies, venture capitalists, academic resources, and startup-focused partners in a central physical hub to help open opportunities, inspire iteration, push progress, and put Tampa Bay on the map as a prime destination for diverse startup talent to make an impact.

In March 2020, the world changed forever due to the COVID-19. As the Tampa Bay community & the nation were coming to grips with the reality that was the pandemic, Vinik began putting together a plan to lift up the people of Tampa Bay. The organization rightly placed an immediate focus on its own people, providing a solid foundation for employees & their families in need. Part-time employees were paid through scheduled (but not conducted) games & events. Full-time employees felt security in knowing they would not be receiving salary reductions. All employees in need were offered assistance though the VSG (Vinik Sports Group) Cares Employee Assistance Fund in order to provide confidential short-term emergency support to employees experiencing financial hardships. Thanks to the generosity of Lightning players & staff, the program granted nearly $120,000. Along with the financial assistance, the organization committed other valuable resources through the VSG Connects platform which served as a hub for part-time employees, providing community resources, coaching, job opportunities & more.

Externally, Vinik along with the Lightning provided $200,000 in local media advertising, offering direction & education to those most affected by the pandemic: small businesses & the unemployed. Shortly after the onset of the pandemic, Vinik & the Lightning spent nearly $2 million on COVID relief efforts, including a contribution of $1 million to Metropolitan Ministries, helping the local non-profit provide food, shelter, & utility assistance for displaced members of the community before government assistance was made available. In total, Vinik and the organization gave back nearly $4 million to the local community

Jeff and Penny Vinik continue to personally invest in the community, bringing one-of-a-kind art installations “The Beach,” “Art of the Brick,” and “Love is Calling” to the city of Tampa. The Beach came to AMALIE Arena in 2016 and featured 1.2 million translucent white balls, creating an indoor beach for nearly 100,000 patrons. Art of the Brick, the first exhibit to focus exclusively on the use of LEGO bricks as an art medium, was brought to downtown Tampa in 2017. Love is Calling, an iconic infinity room, made by Yayoi Kusama, considered the best female artist in the world, was the featured exhibit at the Tampa Museum of Art for six months during 2018-19.

The Vinik family has also directly contributed to several local non-profits, including the Florida Aquarium, Tampa Museum of Art, the United Way of Suncoast, Metropolitan Ministries and Tampa Preparatory School and Jeff served as the Chairman of the American Heart Association’s 2018 Tampa Bay Heart Walk.

In August of 2018, the Viniks helped cut the ribbon on the $2.5 million Jeff and Penny Vinik Family Winston Park Boys and Girls Club in east Tampa. In 2017, the Viniks donated $1 million to relief efforts after Hurricane Harvey struck the state of Texas and another $1 million (through the Lightning Foundation) after Hurricane Irma devastated much of the state of Florida. In September 2017, the University of South Florida’s Muma College of Business renamed its dual-degree sport-focused graduate program the Vinik Sport and Entertainment Program, a result of Jeff and Penny’s support of the University and this field of study.

In September of 2019, through the Vinik Family Foundation, the Viniks donated $5 million to help IDEA Public Schools, a network of nationally acclaimed, tuition-free college preparatory public charter schools, launch four new schools in the Tampa Bay area.

Penny Vinik is the chair of a community arts initiative which is enabling Tampa Bay-based artists to display their works throughout AMALIE Arena. She is on the board of directors and the executive committee of the Tampa Museum of Art, where she led the search to select its Executive Director.

After growing up in New Jersey and attending high school at Riverdale Country School in New York City, Vinik graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Duke University (1981) with a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering and Economics. He went on to earn his Master of Business Administration degree from the Harvard Business School, graduating in 1985.

Vinik was awarded Duke University’s Distinguished Young Alumni Award in 1994, and he later served on the Duke University Board of Trustees. In May 2012, the family made a $10-million donation to Duke to establish a faculty challenge fund that is being used to hire and retain professors who focus on complex societal challenges such as engineering and related areas in energy, global health, brain sciences and the environment.

In addition to his primary business interests in Tampa Bay, Vinik maintains interests in several other entities, including aXiomatic, a Los Angeles-based esports and gaming company of which he is co-executive chairman. Founded in September of 2016, aXiomatic is the majority owner of the Team Liquid franchise, a stalwart esports franchise, which won DOTA2’s The International 2017 and secured back-to-back North American championships in 2018 for League of Legends’ North American League Championship Series. Vinik was also a limited partner with Fenway Sports Group (parent of Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox and Liverpool FC of the Premier League in England) for 15 years.

Jeff and Penny reside in South Tampa and have four children: Danny, Jared, Kyra, and Joshua.