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Lightning owner Jeff Vinik drops bid for Channelside Bay Plaza

The Tampa Bay Lightning owner and his partners walk away from Anglo-Irish Bank, who controls the foreclosed property.

Crowds have been a rare sight at Channelside Bay Plaza
Crowds have been a rare sight at Channelside Bay Plaza
(Photo by kthypryn via Wikimedia Commons)

In a reversal of fortune, a group that included Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik has dropped its bid to acquire the retail and entertainment venue known as Channelside Bay Plaza that lies due east of the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Just last week, the Tampa Bay Times had reported that Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment (the business entity for Vinik's affairs, including ownership of the Lightning) was closing in on finalizing its purchase of Channelside Bay Plaza from the Anglo-Irish Bank, who controls the venue.

But this morning, reports the news that the deal has hit a dead end:

Though an official statement does not name the legal problem, it likely refers to a potential tangle with the former operators of the complex, Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp., which has been criticized by 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, chief executive officer of Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment, which controls the Lightning and Forum, 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."

Comparisons of Vinik's intentions for Channelside Bay Plaza compared directly to L.A. Live, the mixed use complex in Los Angeles that lies just across the street from Staples Center (home of the LA Lakers and Kings).

Vinik has also been busy snatching up property north of the Forum, which has led to speculation about a baseball stadium being constructed downtown, but nothing has been revealed in what Vinik or his partners plan to do with the assembled property.