Amalie Arena, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik has violated Florida law every year since he purchased the team by not registering the out-of-state corporation that owns the team with the State of Florida. In doing so, Vinik has escaped paying annual fees and avoided meeting required disclosures.
Vinik is the chairman and sole individual controlling the corporation.
The Tampa Bay Lightning is owned by a Delaware corporation called Tampa Bay Sport and Entertainment, LLC (TBSE). When the National Hockey League announced the sale of the Tampa Bay Lightning Feb. 5, 2010, TBSE was mentioned by name as the new owner. TBSE is thus a Delaware corporation that transacts business in Florida.
Incorporating in Delaware instead of Florida makes TBSE a “foreign corporation” under Florida law. Florida Statute 607.1501 states that “a foreign corporation may not transact business in this state until it obtains a certificate of authority from the Department of State.”
However, since purchasing the Lightning, TBSE never obtained the required certificate from the state. The Guardian confirmed this through a phone call to the Florida Division of Corporations.