Thursday, October 16, 2014

Vinik Offers Channelside Land for USF Medical School...Not Stadium

It is all happening so fast.  After years of inactivity downtown, Lightning owner Jeff Vinik is now moving fast to assemble land, hire lobbyists...then this:
The WUSF report indicates the offer includes a parcel near the corner of Channelside and Meridian, and plans will likely shape up over the next couple of months.  The annual legislative "ask" from the Board of Governors is in January.  WUSF adds:
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.
As far as Vinik's contribution, the donation of land is quite common for a developer looking to increase the value of his surrounding land.  The USF Medical School is also believed to be the reason he hired lobbyist Brian Ballard, among others.

So far, most of Vinik's contributions - include $60 million in arena upgrades - have come out of his own pocket.  Which is why he's probably due some help from both state funds and downtown CRA funds.  Just don't expect any Rays team funds - there has been no talk of adding a stadium to the Channelside plans.

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