Tampa Bay Lightning partner with Manatee County neighborhood - WFLA News Channel 8

Tampa Bay Lightning partner with Manatee County neighborhood

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LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL (WFLA) -

Lakewood Ranch, with its manicured lawns and golf courses, isn't the kind of place where you'd expect to see Tampa Bay Lightning signs.

After all, the hockey rink is 50 miles north in Tampa.

"When Mr. Jeff Vinik bought the team three years ago, it became a real objective for us to not just be a team of Tampa but a team truly of the region," said Tod Liweke, CEO, Tampa Bay Lightning.

The who's who within the Tampa Bay Lightning organization was on hand at Lakewood Ranch's Country Club with the big news.

The two have entered into a unique partnership that both hope will help their bottom lines.

"You might ask why team up with a sports franchise?" said Rex Jensen, CEO of Schroeder-Manatee Ranch. "Why would real estate team up with a group like the lightning? And the answer is both businesses are about people, both businesses are about marketing to people, and in the end both are about performance."

The agreement means there will be a lot more lightning signage in Lakewood Ranch.

In exchange, Tod Leiweke, CEO of the Lightning, says the neighborhood will be in the national spotlight.

"Tonight's game will be viewed by hundreds of thousands of people in Ontario, and they will see the Lakewood ranch sign on the ring board, and hopefully as we score goals," Leiweke said.  

The Lightning say it just makes sense to go south to find more fans and they say other sports teams should so the same."

Just this week the Tampa Bay Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg met with the Hillsborough County Commission about moving their stadium to Hillsborough County.

Leiweke wouldn't comment on that, but says major sports teams need to go after fans throughout the region.

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