|Vincent J. Naimoli
Managing General Partner and Chief Executive Officer
The man who secured Tampa Bay´s long-awaited Major League Baseball franchise on March 9, 1995, continues to work as hard as anyone to build a championship team.
Taking the torch from a long line of community leaders, in 1991 Naimoli accepted the challenge of bringing the National Pastime to the region. Summoning the grit and problem-solving savvy that took him from a humble start in Paterson,N.J., to an NROTC scholarship at Notre Dame, two master´s degrees, the engineering and business worlds, and legendary status as a corporate turnaround specialist, he rallied civic and financial backers to the baseball cause. Naimoli had the ticket-buying public behind him, too, and on March 31, 1998, a $250-million-a-year entity began play at Tropicana Field.
Naimoli forged a naming-rights deal with Tropicana Products that will enable St. Petersburg to receive payments of more than $13 million over the life of the contract, and he and fellow Rays owners paid for improvements at The Trop and the club´s spring stadium, Florida Power Park, Home of Al Lang Field. He insisted that Tropicana Field´s design reflect baseball traditions, among them asymmetrical outfield dimensions, seats close to the action, and dirt base paths. Ever the engineer, he let innovation enhance that traditional feel by arranging the purchase of a revolutionary grasslike playing surface, FieldTurf, for the air-conditioned dome before the 2000 season, earning unanimous approval from the league, players, fans and media. Old-time details blend with modern comforts to create a stadium ranked second in the majors by a group of fans who watched games at every one on their 30 Ballpark Millennium Tour.
The team itself experienced growing pains and injury pains during the first four seasons, but by the start of Year 4 Baseball America ranked the Devil Rays sixth among 30 organizations in terms of developing major league prospects.Many of the prospects in the minors when Baseball America conducted its survey were impact big leaguers by season´s end. Persevering under Naimoli´s leadership, the young Rays went 24-23 over the final 47 games of 2001.
While building a franchise from within, Naimoli also has focused on the game´s welfare. In addition to serving on MLB committees, he was named in January 1999 to the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Baseball Economics, whose recommendations addressed longstanding problems.
As CEO of Anchor Industries International, Naimoli was voted 1995 Florida Entrepreneur of the Year in the turnaround category. In 1999 he joined First Lady Hillary Clinton, Senator John Glenn and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court William Rehnquist in receiving the Ellis Island Medal of Honor from the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations. He also has served on financial and athletic committees at alma mater Notre Dame,chaired the University ofTampa Board of Trustees, and serves on the board at Fairleigh Dickinson University, where he earned an M.B.A. magna cum laude before completing Harvard Business School´s advanced management program in 1974. In the community, Naimoli has received numerous honors for service, including the first Bridging the Bay Award, in 1996.
One of four children of a second-generation Italian immigrant who worked for the New York subway system and became a self-taught stationary engineer, Naimoli graduated from Notre Dame in 1959 out of Paterson Central High School. He still attends Fighting Irish football games with his wife, Lenda, who retired as an Eastern Airlines flight attendant after 24 years and who has an identical twin, Mrs. J.E. (Glenda) Young. He has four daughters Christine, an Arizona State graduate;Tory Ann Jarvis, Stephens College and Kellogg Graduate School alumna; Alyson, a Notre Dame graduate; and Lindsey, currently matriculating at Notre Dame and three Jarvis grandchildren: Jack Burke, Matthew Vincent and William Joseph.
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