Investor Spotlight: Tampa Bay Rays
September 10, 2015
The Tampa Bay Rays have proudly represented Major League Baseball in the Tampa Bay region since 1998. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has called the Rays a “model organization,” and the organization is widely recognized as being “best-run, most symbiotic” in baseball. In addition to winning season after season, the Rays have been recognized by ESPN for their fan-friendly approach and attention to customer service.
Melanie Lenz joined the Rays in November 2006 and was responsible for managing the design and construction of their spring training facility in Charlotte County, which was voted the favorite spring training destination by USA Today readers in 2014. She was named the Senior Vice President of Strategy and Development in December 2014. Recently at Tropicana Field, Lenz oversaw the creation of the 360-degree pedestrian circulation around the lower seating bowl and a re-imagined batter’s eye gathering point called The Porch, building on the $20+ million the Rays have invested in Tropicana Field since 2006. She also oversees key strategic initiatives including the Rays brand extension within the television market, management of essential business relationships, business analytics activities, and long-term facilities planning.
What business expansion or relocation project has had the biggest impact on Tampa and Hillsborough County?
It’s impossible to pick one project – each impacts the City and County in such different ways. Johnson & Johnson’s decision to select Tampa as its headquarters to house some of its key corporate services demonstrates that Tampa and Hillsborough County continue to be a destination of choice for some of the country’s top businesses and is a huge boon for job creation. Recent expansion announcements by Accusoft and BlueGrace Logistics highlight the importance of supporting our home-grown businesses and entrepreneurial activities. And projects like Ashley Furniture’s E-commerce headquarters illustrate, through a very creative adaptive re-use project, how important quality of life and sense of place are to job creation.
What makes Tampa and Hillsborough County an ideal place for a corporate headquarters?
More than anything, we have a very welcoming business community – one with a deep sense of pride and hunger to build on our success. Business leaders welcome others to the area unlike any other place. The concept of partnership is alive and thriving, which helps reduce the business learning curve for those who are new to the area. We also have access to a qualified workforce being developed by our outstanding local colleges and universities, all of which are committed to supporting talent and business growth.
What is Tampa and Hillsborough County’s best kept secret?
The growing foodie culture is amazing. We’re becoming a destination for outstanding and inventive restaurants, while still honoring the traditional icons that give Tampa and Hillsborough County its culinary foundation. Curtis Hixon Park and the Riverwalk, while certainly no longer a secret, are truly great amenities for families with kids. They are exceptional urban public spaces that connect family-friendly and cultural assets. My family loves spending time at the park, along the waterfront and at the museums and the aquarium on the weekends.
What role do you see your organization playing in helping to shape our community’s future?
The Tampa Bay Rays are part of the fabric of our community, and it’s our mission to energize this community through the magic of baseball. Baseball has a more than 100 year history in Tampa Bay, and we are proud to make Tampa Bay one of only 28 other Major League communities. Through our play on the field, our work in the community, and our connection to cities and regions across the county, we are very proud to tell Tampa Bay’s success story however we can and call this area home.