Leiweke leaving Seattle Seahawks

The changes with the Seattle Seahawks continue, and this time it’s at the very top.

Tod Leiweke, who oversaw the rejuvenation of the franchise during the past seven years, is stepping down as CEO of Vulcan Sports and Entertainment to join the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning as CEO and part owner.

The move was announced today in a press release issued by Vulcan Sports and Entertainment. Leiweke also headed the Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle Sounders FC, the other sports holdings of owner Paul Allen.

“I’m sorry to see him go, but I know hockey is his first love,” Allen said in a statement.

Leiweke, 50, worked for the Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota Wild of the NHL prior to joining the Seahawks in 2003.

“Tod has been a leader for our sports teams,” Allen said. “He helped lead the Seahawks to the 2005 NFC Championship and our first Super Bowl. He also understands our priority on the fans, reinvigorating the 12th Man tradition and leading the team to a five-season string of sellout crowds.”

But Leiweke’s successful touch did not stop at the Seahawks, as the three franchises have combined for 201 consecutive sellouts.

Leiweke will remain with Vulcan Sports until his replacement is found, and he will assist in the search-and-selection process.

“Paul Allen is the most fan-friendly owner in professional sports,” Leiweke said. “He has built great sports franchises that have always given much back to the community. We have strong management and coaching in place in Seattle and Portland and I know the teams are in good hands.”

It was Leiweke who enticed Pete Carroll to leave the University of Southern California and join the Seahawks as coach in January, after the team won nine games the past two seasons. Carroll and Leiweke then headed the process that led to John Schneider being named general manager.

With the Lightning, which was recently purchased by Jeff Vinik, Leiweke will have the opportunity to be involved in an ownership role, as well as the day-to-day operation of the franchise.