After two years at City Hall, City Attorney Jim Shimberg Jr. is leaving to join the Tampa Bay Lightning’s parent company. He’ll start there May 1.
Shimberg, a 26-year veteran of Tampa’s Holland & Knight law firm, is the second key member of Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s administration to announce his departure this month. Chief of Staff Santiago Corrada will take the reins of Tampa Bay & Company, the region’s chief tourism agency, in early May.
“I really didn’t want to lose them,” Buckhorn said. “But these are two opportunities I didn’t want to stand in the way of.”
Buckhorn said Shimberg never intended to stay at City Hall for the mayor’s entire four-year term. Shimberg joined the administration “because of our friendship,” Buckhorn said.
Shimberg will join Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment as its executive vice president and general counsel. The company also owns the Tampa Bay Storm area football team and the Forum, where both the Lightning and the Storm play their games.
CEO Tod Leiwecke said Shimberg, a land-use specialist, will advise the company’s leadership while overseeing the organization’s legal matters and owner Jeff Vinik’s outside real estate interests.
“His wealth of local knowledge, legal expertise and deep community relationships will elevate our executive team as we continue to develop the organization and its presence in Tampa Bay,” Leiwecke said in a written statement announcing Shimberg’s new role.
Vinik has expressed interest in buying the Channelside Bay Plaza entertainment complex and expanding it into a larger entertainment district. He already has bought into at least two other pieces of land in the Channel District area -- a site that once housed Newk's Cafe and property at Morgan Street and Channelside Drive.
One of Vinik's partners in the two properties is Gold Crown Management, whose affiliates bought 7 acres across from The Forum in 2011. Gold Crown executive Ray Baker helped pull together public financing for Denver’s Coors Field, the ballpark that is home for the Colorado Rockies.
Buckhorn laughed off suggestions that Shimberg’s new job could add more leverage to local efforts to bring the Rays to Tampa.
He did agree, though, that the moves by Shimberg and Corrada could help move his own agenda for the city’s future along.
“That’s why losing them is less painful,” Buckhorn said. “They know what my vision is for this community.”