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Vinik confirms Arctos Sports buys minority stake in Lightning

Arctos Sports Partners has "purchased an undisclosed stake" in the Lightning, with the transaction "approved by the NHL and finalized Dec. 31," according to Jay Cridlin of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. The sale gives Arctos a share of Vinik Sports Group. Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik, who remains the team’s controlling partner, said that the sale would "cause 'zero notable ripples' within the organization -- there will be no new directors or executives at Amalie Arena or elsewhere, and the new owners’ influence will be 'severely limited.'" Vinik: “What they’re doing combines three things that I love, which is sports, business and investments. It’s kind of my life.” Vinik "declined to say what percentage of the team Arctos now owns, how much they paid, or how they paid it." Cridlin notes Arctos co-Founders Ian Charles and David O’Conner "first approached Vinik at his downtown Tampa office a couple of years ago, before the team’s back-to-back Stanley Cup wins." Vinik said that he was "'blown away' by their strategic vision," leading to an "'ongoing dialogue' with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman about changing league ownership rules to allow institutional investors to buy in." That "finally happened last month, paving the way for this deal." Along with the Lightning, Arctos also "recently bought minority stakes" in the Penguins and Wild. Vinik said that owning parts of three different NHL teams was “appropriately an important concern” for the league, but there will be "strict guidelines on what Arctos will and won’t have access to as it relates to each team." Arctos owns stakes in "more than a dozen pro teams," including the Warriors, NBA Kings and, through Fenway Sports Group, the Red Sox and Liverpool FC (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 1/4).

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