SBD/October 16, 2012/Facilities

Lightning Owner Vinik Buys Downtown Land Adjacent To Tampa Bay Times Forum

Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik is “linked to the acquisition of several parcels” around the Tampa Bay Times Forum that “tie the Channel District together and could set the stage for the massive redevelopment of a barren swath of downtown,” according to Thalji, Harrington & Baird of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. A Vinik partnership, Crestline Acquisitions Group, two weeks ago “paid $9.5 million for a narrow, 5-acre strip owned by the Italiano family that sits across from the Times Forum.” The land is “right next to 7 acres that another group tied to Vinik, Pinnacle Channelside Properties, bought last year for $6.8 million.” All that land fronts the Tampa Bay Times Forum arena, which “Vinik leases, and is near the Channelside Bay Plaza entertainment complex, which he's trying to acquire.” Vinik and his partners “envision refurbishing and relaunching the beleaguered Channelside Bay Plaza; adding new development like a hotel to create a contiguous waterfront development from the Times Forum to the Florida Aquarium; and tying it all to the city's Riverwalk.” Lightning Exec VP/Communications Bill Wickett said that there are “no plans to develop the new purchases -- not yet anyway.” Wickett said, "Other than immediately focusing on improving parking options and service for our guests and employees, we have not discussed plans for any of the property north of Channelside Drive, but could envision our involvement in some kind of future development." One thing Wickett “did rule out was Vinik's involvement in a potential baseball stadium” for the Rays. Wickett: "While we are excited about our neighborhood and its potential development, we are not engaged in any discussions regarding any designs for baseball" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 10/13).
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