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University Beat

Vinik Offers Downtown Tampa Land to USF

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WUSF has learned that Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik has offered about an acre of land in downtown Tampa to the University of South Florida to build both the USF Morsani College of Medicine and the USF Health Heart Institute.

The offer of the land, located near the corner of Channelside and Meridian, was extended to USF President Judy Genshaft and USF Health Senior Vice President Dr. Charles Lockwood at a USF Board of Trustees Health workgroup meeting Wednesday.

USF officials tell WUSF the the offer will be considered and they plan to have a decision made in time for the Florida Board of Governors' meeting in January. That's when universities have to have their budget requests in for the next legislative session.

USF is asking for $62 million in state funds over the next three years, including $17 million in the upcoming session, for a new Medical School building, along with another $15.8 million for the Heart Institute. The Board of Governors told USF officials last week that they need to pick a location for the school - whether it's on the Tampa campus or downtown - before they'd consider that request.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that Vinik, who has bought 24 acres of land around the Amalie Arena, has hired lobbyist Brian Ballard and two others to present his plans to state legislators.