LAKEWOOD RANCH — As a child in Canada, Todd Pokrywa learned to skate by pushing a kitchen chair around his backyard, after his father flooded the property and let it ice over. He lived and breathed hockey, plastering his bedroom walls with hockey posters and playing ice, street and ball hockey at every opportunity.
As a young adult, he pursued his interest in the growth and changing of communities; he earned a degree in urban and regional planning from Canada’s University of Waterloo.
And, now, as vice president of planning for Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, Pokrywa has the opportunity to combine his two life passions: hockey and community development. Flanked on one side by SMR officials and on the other by hockey legend Steve Yzerman and sports executive Tod Leiweke, Pokrywa led introductions Jan. 25, as SMR and the Tampa Bay Lightning announced their new branding partnership.
“We here in the Ranch will be the thunder for the Lightning,” he said.
SMR subsidiary LWR Communities has become the exclusive residential real-estate development partner of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Tampa Bay Times Forum, with Lakewood Ranch receiving extensive brand exposure for Lightning home games, including dasher board and LED signage and the title sponsorship to an in-game feature celebrating good things in and around the Tampa Bay and Lakewood Ranch communities. Lakewood Ranch will also be the presenting sponsor for two Tampa Bay Lightning games each season and has its name on the new “Lakewood Ranch Client Services Lounge.”
“We’re a unique community, and a unique community requires a unique marketing approach,” SMR President and CEO Rex Jensen said. “Both businesses are about people. Organizationally, the Lightning are the same culture (as SMR). Hockey is popular in our key markets; the (hockey) season overlaps with our peak (home) sales season. This relationship will put us on the national and international real-estate map.”
LWR Communities President Brian Kennelly said he believes the partnership also will stimulate the local economy by giving Lakewood Ranch the exposure it needs to attract new and established businesses that want to come to Florida.
Lightning CEO Tod Leiweke said the partnership benefits his organization, as well, because the Lightning hopes to expand its reach and fan base throughout Sarasota and Manatee counties and the region. The organization will host an annual National Hockey League alumni golf tournament in Lakewood Ranch, as part of that effort, for example.
Leiweke noted the Lightning also hopes to have more winners of their $50,000 Community Hero grants come from the Sarasota/Bradenton area. SMR CEO and President Rex Jensen has been appointed to the Community Heroes committee.
“The fact is, this is our home,” Leiweke said. “We really believe there is a lot we can do to support Lakewood Ranch and this (region).”
The branding agreement between SMR and the Lightning is for two years.
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].