Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and his wife Penny have given $500,000 to the Florida Aquarium‘s Rising Tides Campaign, a fundraising effort the aquarium hopes will fund a 100,000 square foot expansion of their premises.
Just under a month ago, we reported on the Florida Aquarium’s expansion and their Rising Tides Campaign. At the time of the report, the aquarium had raised just about half of their $15 million goal. With the Vinik’s donation, the campaign has raised a total $8 million since it began in 2011.
Once funds are raised and the proper measures are put into place, construction will begin on the Florida Aquarium’s expansion. The expansion will be built on top of the aquarium’s already-existing structure. It will feature a state of the art education center with five innovative classrooms and a theater in the round, a new exhibit hall for travelling exhibits, a new gallery called Lookout Lodge, and more.
The Viniks are definitely no strangers to giving back to the Tampa Bay community. This season, they launched the Community Heroes initiative. The initiative put in place a program where the Tampa Bay Lightning honor a deserving grassroots community hero at each of the team’s 41 home games then present a $50,000 check to the non-profit charity of his or her choice. That means the Vinik’s donated a total $2,050,000 to Bay area nonprofits over the course of last season.
Oh yeah, that $35 million upgrade the publicly-owned Tampa Bay Times Forum underwent last year? That came straight from Vinik’s pocket as well. When it comes to Tampa Bay area community heroes, it seems like Jeff and Penny Vinik are more than familiar with the term “birds of a feather”.