Friday, May 18, 2012

Vinik Wins Channelside; Tampa Rays Fans Celebrate

In a showdown between two of the region’s biggest names in entertainment, a group led by Lightning owner Jeff Vinik has been chosen as the top bidder for Tampa’s Channelside complex. And it could be good news for those who hope to one day actually bring the Tampa Bay Rays to Tampa.

Vinik’s bid – a concept believed to be focused on integrating the entertainment complex better with neighbors such as the Tampa Bay Times Forum and Florida Aquarium – topped a bid from a powerhouse group led by new BayWalk owner Bill Edwards.

There's no telling if Vinik had the highest bid for the once-thriving complex, but he apparently had the best. And while he isn't expected to place as great of an emphasis on shopping as the Edwards group, he didn't de-emphacize the idea of a Downtown Tampa baseball stadium as the other group did.

While the Lightning owner is currently a minority owner in the Red Sox, if he ever wanted to invest in the Rays, selling off his Boston stakes would be a mere formality.

The naming of Vinik as the preferred Channelside buyer doesn't affect the Stadium Saga much right now, but it certainly makes the short-term chatter much more interesting.

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