OLDSMAR – City of Oldsmar officials recently agreed to enter an agreement with the Tampa Bay Lightning to build an outdoor street and roller hockey rink in town.
During their meeting on Aug. 7, the Oldsmar City Council voted unanimously to approve a Cooperation and License Agreement with the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation, Inc. to build the rink, the first “Lightning Made” site in Pinellas County, inside the Oldsmar Sports Complex at 3120 Tampa Road.
The new agreement states that the Lightning Foundation, through funding from the National Hockey League and the NHL Players Association, will pay for the construction of the rink, provide equipment for community use, assist the city in setting up and running leagues, perform periodic clinics with Lightning alumni, and cross-promote the new facility. The city’s initial costs will cover the engineering required to prepare the ground surface for the rink construction, and the concrete base itself, according to the agreement.
“We are very pleased to partner with the city of Oldsmar to provide the community with a place to play ball hockey,” Jay Feaster, vice president of community hockey development for the Lightning, said in a press release announcing the agreement.
“Having distributed more than 84,000 Lightning-logoed sticks and balls throughout the Tampa Bay region and donated more than 300-sets of gear to area schools, we are thrilled to now provide places to play the game!”
Oldsmar officials are equally thrilled to be adding another key component to its growing, and diverse, sports tourism portfolio which includes an Olympic-level BMX Supercross track, a gold-level disc golf course, a zipline aerial adventure course as well as brief partnerships/flirtations with professional sports organizations.
“We tried to get the Rays, we got the Red Bulls – for one season, at least – and now we’ve got a deal with the Lightning, one of the best franchises in all of sports,” Mayor Doug Bevis said, referring to the city’s attempt to lure the Tampa Bay Rays to town and the training camp hosted by the New York-based Major League Soccer club at the complex last spring.
Bevis said after the city laid the foundation, the team would build the rink, provide the equipment, run and orchestrate the camps as well as do all the promotional work.
“The Tampa Bay Lightning are true community partners,” he said. “The leadership provided with this agreement and the financial contribution provided for the outdoor rink are only a portion of what makes this a win-win opportunity for everyone.”
He noted the facility would be located in a grassy area that currently serves as parking for the BMX track.
“It will be right off Tampa Road, in the middle third of a grass lot between the Supercross track and the soccer fields,” he said. “So, it’s an ideal location. We’re really excited about it.”
Oldsmar City Manager Al Braithwaite, an avid fan of area sports teams, didn’t hold back when asked how he felt about the new deal.
“In my 30-plus years in local government, I have never been more excited about a project than I am about this one, for the opportunity to provide another exciting recreational option for our residents, and to establish an ongoing relationship with the classiest organization in professional sports today,” Braithwaite said.
According to city officials, construction of the rink is expected to be completed sometime in December or January.