My experience at Leadership Tampa’s Sports Day

Tina Cotton
Assistant Vice President, Financial Foundations – USAA 
Leadership Tampa Class of 2013

Our most recent LT ’13 (the best class ever) event was Sports Day!  We were encouraged to wear a favorite sports attire, it was great seeing the spread of team favorites, Rays, Lightning, Bucs.   Our Sports Day chairs, Troy Atlas, (LT’07) SVP, Investments, Branch Manager, Raymond James and Scott Garlick (LT’ 10), Director, Cushman & Wakefield of Florida Inc, put together a great agenda for us.

The first event of the day was a visit to Tropicana Field.  We received a tour of the facility by none other than Dick Crippen, former sports and weatherman in the Tampa Bay area.  He now works in community development and as senior advisor for the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team.  The amount of knowledge he had about the facility was amazing.  His passion and belief in the team definitely came through.

After the tour, we had the opportunity to hear from Rays President Matt Silverman and Senior Vice President Mark Fernandez.  They talked about the “magic” of the Rays and cultivating such unique talent on the team.  I was very impressed with the amount of community involvement the organization is involved in from the players to senior level.  Some examples given were:  1) Reading with the Rays; 2) Walking school bus: 3) Ray’s Scholars.

We ended our visit with a sports and stadium panel.  The panel included Ron Weaver, Craig Sher and Rob Higgins.  All gave their insight on the value of sports to our community and what we can do as leaders to help support our teams. The panel opened up for a Q & A from class members.

This was the start of a good day…….and then we were off.

Next stop, One Buc Place!  We were checked in and greeted with our own Buc lanyard. We were then escorted to an amazing auditorium for presentations.  You could tell the room was built with players in mind as folks who are 5’2 like myself, their feet could not touch the floor!!!   Mark Dominik, General Manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers welcomed us.  He shared highlights from the Bucs season, what he anticipates for next season and talked about the team’s role in the community.  He couldn’t stay long as it was draft day and he needed to get back to work selecting some great players for our team.  Next up there was a panel discussion with: Jason Dial, Barbara Stephens and Paul Rothenberg, all leaders in the organization.  They discussed the market, retention of season ticket holders and sales strategies. It was evident these folks care a great deal about the organization and have a shared goal across the Marketing, Sales and Member Relations areas.

The Bucs organization treated us to lunch at this facility. Wow, is all I can say! The lunch buffet was amazing, I don’t think I have ever seen plates as big as those.  They were the size of platters.  I noticed above every selection was a nutritional breakdown and found it hard to believe how healthy the selections were.

We ended our Bucs visit with a tour of the training facility and it was most memorable.

Last but certainly not least, was a visit to the Tampa Bay Times Forum. We were escorted on our tour by former hockey player, Dave Andreychuk.  He is the Lightning Vice President in charge of fans.  If you haven’t been to the forum lately you have to go, the renovation is amazing.  As soon as you walk in you can feel the excitement.   The tour and history of the Lightning by Dave was great.  It was great to have his unique perspective as a former player and now that of an Executive in the organization. After the tour we had a presentation and Q & A with Tod Leiweke and Steve Griggs, CEO and COO of the organization.  They walked us through the highlights of the Lightning journey and their focus on the fans experience.  Like the other organizations, the team is heavily involved in the community.  One community event that stood out was “Community Heroes.”  A member of the community is selected as a Community Hero and awarded $50k.  They donate the money to their favorite charity.

Again, an exciting day!!   What impressed me the most about all of these organizations is their commitment to the community and their fans. They all are working to transform their brand and give their fans the best experience ever. All are involved in giving back to the community in many ways. We are very fortunate to have these organizations as part of Tampa Bay!

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