Bolts build business partnership with bulls

By Abby Rinaldi, STAFF WRITER
On September 30, 2015

SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

Some Lightning season ticket members may not know they’re sitting next to potential business partners while enjoying a hockey game at Amalie Arena, but a new program from the Tampa Bay Lightning and USF could help to bridge the gap.

USF is teaming up with its partners at the Lightning to create the new Bolts Business Alliance. The program focuses on increasing lasting partnerships between local business for Lightning season ticket members, partners and suite-holders. 

The alliance is complimentary for all season ticket members and offers new benefits such as networking events, marketing consultation with the Lightning marketing team and a dedicated page showing all members of the alliance, providing members easier contact with potential business partners.

The program launched Sept. 23. According to Jarrod Dillon, Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment executive vice president of sales and marketing, it has been in development for about six to eight months. 

Dillon said the program began as an idea for a strategy to increase the value of season ticket membership for businesses. The program was outlined by the Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment Marketing staff and Corporate Partnership staff and then brought to USF for feedback, after which the alliance was put into action.

Three alliance networking events are planned for the upcoming year, two of which will be held at Amalie Arena and one on USF’s Tampa campus, according to a press release from Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment. 

These events will feature speakers on hockey, business and Tampa Bay and an hour for making new contacts. USF and the Lightning have worked together in the past, creating programs such as USF’s Sport Management MBA.

“The Lightning are excited to launch another terrific program with our partners at the University of South Florida,” Lightning CEO Steve Griggs said in a press release. “This new initiative will be a great way for our business-minded season ticket members to connect, network and improve Tampa Bay through industry.”

Dillon said USF was the ideal partner for the Bolts Business alliance given the deep, long-lasting relationship between them and the resources that USF has to offer.

“For (the Lightning) to find a partner that is seen as very innovative, forward thinking and credible and respected in the Tampa Bay community was very important to us, and USF obviously meets every one of those needs,” Dillon said.

USF students will not be able to directly reap the benefits of the program unless they become season ticket members. However, the Lightning also offers many programs to USF students like the Sports and Entertainment Residency program and the Student Rush ticket program. 

The residency program is for second year graduate students and provides employment within any partnering organization three days of the week, while the other two are dedicated to classes at USF. 

Dillon said the Lightning currently have more than 10 USF students working as part of the residency program. The Student Rush ticket program gives students tickets starting at $20 15 minutes before puck drop at Lightning home games.

The partnership between the Lightning and USF has been around for four or five years and the union created by the Bolts Business Alliance will only strengthen this partnership, Dillon said.

“One thing down the road that we’ll look at… is USF’s programs themselves… some of the great resources that the university has that we can market to all of these businesses that the Lightning and Amalie Arena already do business with,” Dillon said. “The crossover opportunities we think are endless.”

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