Sports Day Touchdown!

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On Tuesday, March 5, 2019 the Tampa Connection Class of 2018-2019 attended and participated in Tampa Connection’s annual Sports Day Program.  The planning committee’s mission for the day was demonstrate the importance and relevance of the social, economic, and philanthropic impacts that Tampa Bay Sports teams have on the community. This was accomplished by visiting some of Tampa’s prominent professional sports team and venues, as well as learning from several distinguished speakers and panels.

On an unusually rainy March morning, our class and board members first visited Amalie Arena, where we had an opportunity to tour Tampa’s world-class arena, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning, as well as many other prominent sporting events, shows, and concerts. We heard from Travis Pelleymounter, Vice President of Sales and Service for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who shared with us how the Tampa Bay Lightning became one of the premier franchises in professional sports, as well as the importance of the team, as well as Amalie Arena, to the community. We also heard from former Tampa Bay Lightning captain, Stanley Cup Champion, and Hockey Hall of Famer Dave Andreychuck, who now serves as the Executive Vice President of Corporate and Community Affairs for the Lightning, who spoke to us about the Lightning’s current historic and record-breaking season.

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After enjoying some coffee and tea while we watched the Lightning’s morning skate session, we heard from our first panel of speakers, comprised of Eric Blankenship, Vice President of Marketing for the Tampa Bay Lighting; Ryan Cook, Senior Director of Sales and Service for the Tampa Bay Lighting; and Deno Anagnost, Vice President of Sales for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Jason Aughey, Senior Director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, moderated the panel. Eric, Ryan, and Deno shared some insights as to the marketing, revenue-generating, and other business-related aspects of our local professional sports team, as well as their personal journeys and day-to-day lives in the sports business field.

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After departing Amalie Arena, we were lucky enough to be treated to lunch by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Buccaneers team cafeteria. We were served a hot buffet lunch full of delicious food (in very generous portions) served in plates large enough to satisfy a hungry football player after practice! After lunch, we were able to tour the Buccaneer’s Advent Health Training Center (formerly One Buc Place), including the new indoor training field and facility. We were one of the first groups to be allowed to tour this new world-class indoor training facility which allows the Buccaneers to escape the unpredictable fall Florida weather while training for the upcoming seasons.

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After the tour, we had the privilege of hearing from our second panel of the day, titled “Women in Sports”, which included Dr. Michelle Harrolle, the incoming Director of USF’s Vinik Sports Entertainment Management Program, and Tampa President of WISE (Women in Sports and Entertainment), Claire Lessinger, the Director of Special Events for the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, Jessica Worley, Vice President of Corporate Partnerships for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Brittany Austin, Director of Marketing for the Tampa Bay Lightning. These women shared stories of their successful journeys, as well as the growing and important role played by women in the sports world, specially in the Tampa Bay area, but also globally. Jason Aughey, Senior Director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, once again moderated the panel in outstanding fashion.


Those who stayed for happy hour at the stunning Arturo Fuente Cigar Factory building in Ybor City were treated to a sports-themed celebration including cigars, tailgate-themed food, drink, and games, as well as a Tampa Bay Sports trivia session. Those that were able to prove their knowledge of our local teams were rewarded with a Tampa Bay Lightning grilling set!


Fun facts:

  • Amalie Arena is the 3rd busiest arena in the US, and 13thin the world
  • The chairs at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers auditorium can hold up to 500 pounds, enough to fit the largest offensive linemen in the NFL!
  • The giant Buccaneers flag at the training facility cost $35,000 to make
  • The Buccaneers can bring the temperature inside their indoor training facility to below-freezing, in order to prepare for playing in cold weather at stadiums located in the northern US


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