by Linda Porter, Skanska USA Building Inc.
The group met at the Forum downtown Tampa for Program 7 of our Leadership Tampa 2014. A quick rundown of the day’s activities before we loaded the buses was given at the Forum. Our first stop was Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. We were greeted by Dick Crippen, a popular former sports and weatherman anchor. What a joy to come face to face with Mr. Crippen! We toured the stadium and walked the field where each of our names and companies were displayed on the running LED display. We also got the opportunity to meet the mascots and tour the locker rooms. Afterwards, we listened to panelists Brian Auld, Senior Vice President of Business Operations and Mark Fernandez, Senior Vice President for the operational procedures for the organization.
After a very informative Tampa Bay Rays excursion, the Best Class Ever loaded the buses back to Tampa and onward to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp. The building is amazing. We met in the team’s auditorium and was surprised when Coach Lovie Smith and new General Manager Jason Licht came from behind the wall! What?! I felt like a little kid. I’m typically not a star struck person but I felt a little something when I saw Lovie. J Sitting in those large chairs could have had something to do with me feeling like a little kid. Some of our feet didn’t touch the floor. We were told those seats could accommodate 500lbs of weight. We ate lunch in the team’s cafeteria with a fantastic view of the practice field, which by the way is actually 3 fields side by side. They have their own personal chef and all of the food is prepared with the players’ health in mind. No real junk food in there. We divided up into 3 groups to tour the facility. The weight room had a view through glass garage doors to the practice field. Did I say it was amazing already?! My group went by the locker room twice to take a peak but it was occupied. I won’t say that four of us went back and got a quick glance later. BEST CLASS EVER!!!! Thanks Tampa Bay Buccaneers! We look forward to new beginnings with Lovie and Lecht! Go Bucs!
Our final stop of the day was with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Mr. Brian Bradley, Community Relations representative and former hockey player, gave us a tour of the facility and spoke highly of owner Jeffrey Vinik. With those accolades, I wanted to meet the man myself. It makes your life that much more satisfying when you enjoy working for people who you respect. We saw the five million dollar score board from the C1 Bank suite. It was SWEET! We saw the locker room, their lounge suite, the gym, and the tunnel where they enter the games. Is it too late for me to get into the sport? We then went to the Grill restaurant there on site and had a sit-down with Steve Griggs, COO. Under the leadership of Mr. Vinik and Steve Griggs, the Lightning saw attendance increase nearly 20 percent. I’d have to say that hockey was never on my radar, but I attended a game and enjoyed it immensely. It’s amazing how quick the day goes by when you’re having fun.
Tampa Bay may not always have winning teams but this I will say, we are very lucky to have all of these professional sports right here available to us. We are a force to be reckoned with and have earned the respect of each league we participate in. I feel so honored to be a part of the Best Class Ever and am certain that we will make an impact on this community!