Posted on February 23, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Friday, Feb 24 at 12:08 AM
TAMPA BAY -- He is the former CEO of the Seahawks, Blazers and Sounders and now doing the same thing in Tampa Bay.
Tod Leiweke's traded the Puget Sound for palm trees. Now trying to make hockey work in the land of the sun.
"It's cool...not cool...it's warm," said Leiweke.
Leiweke swapped Seahawks for lightning blue a year and a half ago.
"It's a beautiful sport, guys skating at 30 mph," said Leiweke.
He admits to following the recent news in Seattle closely.
"The prospect of an arena coming back for anyone connected to Seattle is interesting, intriguing," said Leiweke.
Leiweke says he's been called regarding a possible new arena in Seattle.
"Watercooler more than anything else, people call and ask what I think. I opened a brand new arena in St. Paul, and started a new team, so I have insight on how hard this is and it's hard," said Leiweke.
Leiweke is part owner of the Lightning, part showman.
"Derrick Brooks--C'mon over man--I'm getting interviewed by Seattle TV," said Leiweke.
He believes the NHL could succeed in his old home.
"The NHL could absolutely work in Seattle," said Leiweke.
As long as fans and small amenities like say an organ are a focus.
"Holy smokes this [organ] is more complicated probably than building an arena in Seattle," said Leiweke.
It's worked thus far in Tampa Bay.
In just a short amount of time under Leiweke, Tampa Bay has moved into the top half in attendance in the NHL ahead of more established cities like Minnesota, Boston and Edmonton.
Leiweke says he'll stay connected from the Sunshine State and says he'll root on Seattle just like he does the franchises he once helmed.
"Anyone who counts anything out in sports in Seattle shame on them," said Leiweke.
Leiweke's group just spent about $40 million on their 14 year old arena, which will host the RNC (Republican National Conference) later this year.