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Dispute at Channelside complex puts some RNC events at risk

TAMPA — The landlord for Channelside Cinemas wants a federal judge to can Republican National Convention events at the theater featuring such high-profile names as Glenn Beck.

That's because Channelside Cinemas never got permission to host the events in the first place, according to a complaint filed on behalf of landlord Channelside Bay Mall LLC.

Channelside Cinemas, which filed for bankruptcy last year, "has failed to directly disclose any of its plans during the RNC and continues to be guilty of seeking forgiveness rather than permission," says the Aug. 13 complaint.

The theater was among 73 official venues, released by convention organizers during the last week of April, that were available to rent for parties and events during next week's RNC.

The financially struggling mall in which the theater is a tenant was placed in receivership in 2010 after defaulting on a bank loan. The receiver, Charles G. Taylor, asserts in the complaint that no one at the theater kept him apprised of RNC planning — at least not until July, when he received an email from city planners about the theater operator's plans to build a stage in the lobby.

An attorney for the theater said in court in late July that a number of political celebrities would use the theater for RNC events. The names, according to court records, include Beck, Colin Powell, Laura Bush and Rudy Giuliani. Later, the attorney added more names, including Sarah Palin and Bill Cosby, according to court documents.

However, only an event at the theater featuring Beck has been publicized.

Other tenants sought and received permission to host parties on their leased premises, the landlord's complaint says, but Channelside Cinemas did not.

The landlord describes the events as something akin to using the theater as a "meeting hall," which the lease prohibits.

Because of the lack of communication about the plans at Channelside Cinemas, the complaint says, "it is also impossible to determine if the … planned events conflict with the approved events currently scheduled at Channelside." The complaint also questions why Channelside Cinemas has not provided it with any event contracts.

A federal judge is scheduled today to take up the emergency request, which asks for a temporary restraining order stopping Channelside Cinemas from hosting any RNC parties.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at jtillman@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3374.

Dispute at Channelside complex puts some RNC events at risk 08/20/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 21, 2012 12:18am]
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