Friday, October 31, 2008
Sean Henry, Chief Operating Officer for the Lightning and the St. Pete Times Forum, Is Leaving
There are not too many chief operating officers who know how to operate a forklift, but there was Sean Henry manning a forklift when the St. Pete Times Forum arena became the dropoff center for clothes, medical supplies and furniture in the days after Hurricane Katrina devastated the New Orleans area a few years ago. Downtown Tampa really has no true downtown hub, so the Forum's plaza acted as the city's core when it came to collecting hurricane supplies and shipping them out.
That was emblematic of the hustling, scrappy Sean -- who also just happened to be the chief operating officer for the Tampa Bay Lightning and the St. Pete Times Forum.
In a business filled with phonies and stiffs, Sean was as real as it gets. That's why he stuck out and was liked by all at the arena.
Sean was as friendly to an usher or a floor mopper as he was to the suits who came into the Forum.
He was a New York Long Island guy who bled New York Yankees pinstripes, but he cut his sports-business teeth in food and beverage in Detroit for Bill Davidson and Palace Sports and Entertainment. Sean had also worked for the St. Louis Rams.
When Davidson and Palace Sports took over the Lightning and the former Ice Palace building, Sean and former Lightning president Ron Campbell were dispatched to Tampa to rebuild and market the Lightning and fill seats at the venue. He did a good job. He was named to the Top 40 under 40 by the Sports Business Journal two years ago.
Sean dressed in suits for the job to meet and greet the big-wigs in town, but at his core he was still a scrappy guy with street smarts who prefered short-sleeve shirts and hanging with his pals. He hustled his ass off to get to where he got to -- a nice corner office at the Forum.
He loved sports and loved meeting people -- regardless of their background.
That's why Sean Henry will be missed at the Lightning and the Forum. There was an announcement today in the building that Sean will be leaving. Sean spent 10 years with the Lightning and was responsible for all things business -- from figuring out new ways to massage revenue from the arena to negotiating with the city of Tampa.
He's a good guy and a scrapper -- even if he was a Yankees fan.
He'll do well no matter where his next stop is.