TAMPA, Fla. - 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.
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 and Tampa 2012 Host Committee President Ken Jones.
There's no telling if Vinik had the highest bid for the once-thriving complex, but the bank that owns the foreclosed venue decided his price, concept, and financial stability was the best.
Vinik was also (informally) the preferred bidder of Tampa Bay Rays hoping to see the team move to Tampa one day. While Edwards' group seemed to place more of an emphasis on shopping and retail, Vinik's group is considered more interested in entertainment, potentially including a baseball stadium.
As of late Friday afternoon, the Tampa Port Authority, which leases out the property, had not received official word of the decision from the bank. But the next step in the sale process will see Vinik present his full plan before the authority and seek approval for the purchase.
A representative for Vinik declined comment Friday night.
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