VINIK FAMILY FOUNDATION IMPACT ON THE ARTS IN TAMPA BAY
Vinik Family Foundation is a private foundation established and managed by Penny and Jeff Vinik. Founded in 1997, the Vinik Family Foundation has contributed a generous $75 million plus to philanthropic and charitable organizations. These donations have been primarily directed toward the sectors of the arts, education, and human services which includes healthcare.
The VFF specializes in expanding the public’s comprehension of art by the type of project they are willing to support. This includes their 2016 immersive art experience donated to The Beach Tampa, by Snarkitecture in Tampa, FL. An installation featuring an all-white, 10,000 square foot, beach-like environment with an ‘ocean’ of 1.2 million recyclable white balls. This exhibit at AMALIE Arena was free for everyone who attended. During the three weeks, it was on display, approximately 100,000 people visited the site.
In 1986, after beginning his career in Boston in investment management with Fidelity, Mr. Vinik, also known as Jeff, became the Portfolio Manager for the Fidelity Magellan Fund (FMF). With him at the helm during the years of 1992 through 1996, the FMF averaged 17% yearly returns. It was the largest, accomplished mutual fund in the United States at that time. Vinik then created his own investment initiative entitled Vinik Asset Management L.P. of which he served as Chairman, CIO, and CEO. In a 2006 article, Boston magazine valued Vinik’s net worth at $515 million. (1)
His company flourished making investors an advertised 93.8 percent return in its first 11 months with an approximate 50% return for the next three years. To enable him to concentrate and direct his attention to his personal portfolio, he returned billions to his investors.
In 2006, Vinik moved his fund and his family from Boston to Tampa, renting office space on the 31st floor of the SunTrust tower, and constructing homes for himself and his extended family in the Palma Ceia neighborhood. Vinik started contributing to scores of causes, ranging from small donations to high schools, to more significant roles with the Tampa Museum of Art. Penny was on the Board of the Tampa Museum of Art enabling her to make significant contributions to the museum and other arts.
An avid sports enthusiast and sponsor, Mr. Vinik, a minority owner of Fenway Sports Group, is also a parent of the Boston Red Sox and the Liverpool soccer team. To extend their love of sporting events, Jeff and Penny purchased the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 3, 2010, encouraging a widespread transformation of the franchise; they both pledged to make a significant, helpful impact in the community of Tampa Bay. During the time of acquiring the Tampa Bay Lightning, Vinik, became 57 years of age, and he declared to rebrand the organization to a world-class organization by creating an extraordinary fan experience while obtaining a squad of which Tampa Bay sports fans would be pleased.
“Retaining a team allows Vinik Family Foundation the discernibility to give back,” said Vinik. “It gives us the chance to contribute actively in the community and inspire others, hopefully, to do the same.”
Since Vinik bought the Tampa Bay Lightning, the City’s trained hockey team, a year later the former public fund director had invested hundreds of millions of his income in this region. He moved beyond the ice to become one of the region’s significant sponsors and real estate developers. With his partnership with Cascade Investment, Vinik endeavored to commit billions to a live-work-play advancement which would be situated in the urban core of Tampa Bay. Its one-of-a-kind renovation to one of the country’s fastest-growing cities indicates his dedication. (2)
A blank canvas is used as an area to rebuild a development that is uniquely Tampa. It is a motivated effort for a city that didn’t build an office tower for the past 24 years. There was no plan to make half a town in downtown Tampa; this was made clear by Vinik and this idea evolved with the coast-to-coast style of moving back to urban centers. The main aim is to create an ecosystem or environment that will appeal to millennials from outside the area with jobs that have attractive salaries that can encourage further economic growth.
Vinik Family Foundation on art and culture
Jeff and Penny Vinik’s practice of providing immersive art experiences to Tampa continue as this occurs at the Tampa Museum of Art. It is not Legos or plastic balls, but a mirrored room that is forever. Vinik Family Foundation loaned one of Japanese contemporary artist, Yayoi Kusama’s, popularly known as Infinity Mirror rooms from their collection. The soft statuettes on the floor and ceiling “Love Is Calling” linked with elongated, inflated dreamy colorful and polka-dotted tentacles, changing colored lights in a mirrored chamber. Audio of Kusama reciting her love poem “Residing in a Castle of Shed Tears” in Japanese plays continuously.
The family is also sponsoring the museum’s other fall presentations, focused on the notion of love. This feature was the work of famed artist Robert Indiana. The other feature presentation was new sculptural work ordered for the museum.
After the display at the Tampa Museum of Art, plans were made to install Kusama’s Infinity Room at Tampa Bay Lightning location Water Street. The Tampa project, which cost around $3 billion, is a mixed-use hub, for office space, hotels, retail, entertainment, and residences. Most people love it because it is the most massive room and it very colorful.
Kusama is a well-known and well-recognized artist and is high publicized on social media. She has been creatively producing beautiful works of art since the 1950s. The 89-year-old artist produces installations and colorful sculptures, regularly festooned with her logo polka-dots, which she’s also wears to important occasions. Most of her Eternity (or Infinity) Mirror Rooms display her sculptures, make use of water and the light present to give the deception of being suspended in outer space. They are highly selfie-worthy, which has helped to project Kusama back into the face of the public.
Artists are asked to create works in response to primordial objects in a way to channel the gap between the contemporary art and museum’s collection of ancient art, which Robotham and Pevnick hope will become a series. These are not designed for a comprehensive museum; there is interesting juxtaposition among works of art that were made many eras ago and works that are freshly produced. Pevnick made this statement. “Occasionally those communicate to each other appealing clearly, and other times they don’t, so one or the other defies to try to make these connections.”
Vinik Family Foundation has been principally a help and benefactor to the Tampa Museum of Art and Museum of Fine Arts, where Mrs. Vinik has served as a Vice-President to the executive committee. Other grantees have included Hampton Arts Management, which is a nonprofit association established in 2010 for the development artistic and artists groups in the Tampa Bay area, like Museum of Science and Industry, Florida Aquarium, New England Aquarium, Boston Children’s Museum and Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Florida. They have also donated to other non-profit organizations such as the United Way of Suncoast, Metropolitan Ministries and Tampa Preparatory School. Jeff has already committed to serve as the Chairman of the AHA’s 2018 Heart Walk for Tampa Bay.
Other Noteworthy Contributions from the Vinik Family Foundation and other associated foundations:
- 08/2018: Jeff and Penny Vinik participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony on the $2.5 million Family Winston Park Boys and Girls Club in East Tampa.
- In 2017, after Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of Texas, the Vinik’s made a $1 million donation to the relief efforts.
- Also in 2017, after Hurricane Irma rampaged through the State of Florida, the Vinik’s (through the Lightning Foundation) donated another $1 million to relief efforts underway there.
- 09/2017, as a result of Jeff and Penny’s support of the University and this field of study, the Muma College of Business at the University of South Florida’s renamed its dual-degree sport-focused graduate program the “Vinik Sport and Entertainment Program.”
“Penny Vinik is the chair of a community arts initiative which is enabling Tampa Bay-based artists to display their works throughout AMALIE Arena. She is Vice President of the Board of Trustees at Tampa Preparatory School and a board member of Tampa Museum of Art, where she led the search to select its Executive Director.” (3)
“In addition to his primary business interests in Tampa Bay, Vinik maintains interests in several other entities, including aXiomatic, a Los Angeles-based esports and gaming company of which he is co-executive chairman. Founded in September of 2016, aXiomatic is the majority owner of the Team Liquid franchise, a stalwart esports franchise, which won DOTA2’s The International 2017 and secured back-to-back North American championships in 2018 for League of Legends’ North American League Championship Series.” (3)
“Jeff and Penny reside in South Tampa and have four children: Danny, Jared, Kyra, and Joshua.” (3)