Tampa Bay Times Forum Credit: Tasha Meares

Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik Drops Bid for Channelside

In what seems like a very disappointing reversal of fortune, the group that included Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik has dropped their bid to acquire the Channelside Bay Plaza that is located just east of the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

As early as last week, it was reported by the Tampa Bay Times that Vinik was close to reaching a deal to acquire the distressed entertainment complex from the Anglo-Irish Bank, who currently controls the venue.

While no specifics were given on the nature of the legal issue, there is speculation that they may be referencing a potential legal battle with Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp., the former owners of the entertainment complex who have been heavily criticized by their tenants for neglect.

“After working diligently and patiently for months on the Channelside project, we have come to the conclusion that a significant legal hurdle, beyond our control, could not be overcome,” Tod Leiweke, CEO of Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment, said in a statement. “We see great potential for the waterfront and other properties in the Channelside District and at this time, we are focusing our energies on some of those spaces.”

As of late, Vinik has been acquiring property just north of the Tampa Bay Times Forum. This has led to speculation of a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays being constructed in the downtown area; however, no plans have been formally announced for the property.

However, with the many improvements that Vinik has made to not only their Lightning organization, but our community as a whole, I trust that this decision was not made lightly, and that there is a good reason this decision was reached. I am excited to see what the future holds for the neighborhood that the Tampa Bay Lightning calls home.

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