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What role might Channelside plans play in Tampa Bay's World Junior Championships bid?

Tampa Bay has been named by USA Hockey as a finalist for the 2018 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships. What role will ongoing renovation and development by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik in the Channelside District play?

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

USA Hockey announced today that Tampa Bay is officially a finalist for the 2018 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships:

This isn't really shocking news; we've known for some time that Tampa Bay has impressed USA Hockey with its very thorough bid and that Tampa Bay would likely be on any shortlist of American cities vying to host the tournament.

What is interesting is that today, the team also announced the official beginning of utility improvements on and around Channelside Drive to "support area re-development". The full release:

The City of Tampa will install new water and stormwater pipes as well as new conduits for TECO, Brighthouse, and Verizon in the southern downtown area to support redevelopment.

The project will take approximately 8 weeks with work anticipated to be complete by the end of September 2015. Throughout that time, Channelside Drive between Jefferson Street and Old Water Street will be closed to motorists. Pedestrian access will be maintained along the south side of Channelside Drive between Morgan Street and Old Water Street throughout construction.

Total cost for the improvements is approximately $330,000 funded by the City of Tampa Downtown Community Redevelopment area. Stantec Inc. is the design engineer, and Kimmins will be the contractor.

A map of the suggested alternate routes is available at Signage with detour information will also be posted for Harbour Island residents as well as area visitors to the Marriott Waterside, Tampa Convention Center, Port Tampa Bay, and local cultural assets in the immediate area.

Guests visiting Amalie Arena should visit for information on how the closures effect coming for your upcoming event.

Area residents or motorists with questions or concerns should contact the City of Tampa Contracts Administration Department at (813) 635-3400.

The details of how much Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik's Channelside "vision plan" plays into Tampa's bid for the WJCs are unknown, but it's likely that USA Hockey and the IIHF won't want to send one of their biggest events to a location that is still an active construction site. Getting the utilities -- water pipes, storm drains, and electrical wiring -- squared away now could be seen as show of good faith that the Channelside plans are moving ahead and will have the area in a suitable condition in time for the tournament.

This type of process is notoriously secretive and political, but one thing is certain: Vinik, the Lightning, and the City of Tampa are putting their money where their mouth is with regards to making the area around Amalie Arena a "world class" destination.