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Jeff Vinik Suspending Efforts to Purchase Channelside


The man who many hoped would purchase the struggling Channelside shopping and entertainment complex says he is suspending his efforts to do so.

Jeff Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning, was seen as the most likely suitor for Channelside, which is in bankruptcy. Several businesses there have either closed down or said they planned to leave.

In a statement, Vinik and his partners cite an unnamed "significant legal hurdle, beyond our control."

The Tampa Bay Times is reporting that the legal hurdle is Channelside’s previous owner: Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation.

Ashkenazy defaulted on a $27 million loan, which led Channelside to be taken over by an Irish bank.

But a court decision gives Ashkenazy the right to match any offer to buy Channelside – and that seems to be the hang up for Vinik’s group.

This might not be the end for Vinik’s bid for Channelside. But observers say it may take another court fight to resolve the issues and get the shopping complex back on track.

Here is the entire press release:

Tampa Bay Lightning Chairman and Governor Jeff Vinik, and his partners with Metis Channelside, LLC, Anthony Everett and Andrew Wright, have suspended their attempts to acquire Channelside Bay Plaza. Metis notified members of the governing board of the Tampa Port Authority and interim executive director Charles Klug earlier today of the decision and formally notified the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation to withdraw and revoke any and all offers made with respect to Channelside Bay Plaza.

“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,” said Tod Leiweke, Chief Executive Officer of Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment, which controls the Lightning and the Tampa Bay Times Forum. “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.

“We thank each board and staff member of the Tampa Port Authority and remain hopeful that a positive outcome can be achieved for Channelside Bay Plaza as we believe its vibrancy is part of the total solution for the area.”

Scott Finn is a former news director at WUSF Public Media, which provides in-depth reporting for Tampa Bay and all of Florida.
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