St. Pete Operator Agrees To Sale

Boston financier Jeff Vinik has agreed to buy Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment, which operates the St. Pete Times Forum and owns the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning and 5.5 acres of land adjacent to the Florida arena.

The deal, announced Feb. 5, is pending approval from the league’s board of governors, which is considered a formality and expected in three to four weeks.

The company was sold in 1999 to the current ownership group OK Hockey by Palace Sports & Entertainment, which itself may soon be sold by heirs of the late Detroit Pistons owner Bill Davidson.

It’s not known how much Vinik, who is also a limited partner of baseball’s Boston Red Sox, has agreed to pay for the Tampa Bay group but it’s believed to be far less than the $200 million OK Hockey reportedly paid for it, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

One key to the transaction is reportedly PSE’s willingness to take less on the dollar to settle its $67 million financing of OK Hockey’s purchase, according to the paper. PSE also reportedly lent another $30 million in operating capital.

Getting the Tampa Bay assets off its books is believed to make it easier to sell PSE, the paper said.