Sunday, February 18, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Vinik's offer is best bet for Channelside

Jeff Vinik's apparent winning bid Wednesday for Channelside Bay Plaza hopefully marks a new chapter for downtown Tampa's beleaguered outdoor mall. Though the sale is not yet complete, the terms should satisfy the federal bankruptcy judge overseeing the case four years after the building's owners, the Irish Bank Resolution Corp., foreclosed on the property. Vinik's offer should prompt rival bidder Liberty Channelside to move on and not torpedo the sale with further litigation.

The Tampa Bay Lightning owner's offer of $7.1 million at Wednesday's auction in New York was the "highest and best," court records show. Vinik also provided a $10 million letter of credit as assurance that he has the means to upgrade the struggling and worn facility.

The vision Vinik's development group sketched out this week was for a restaurant-retail-hotel mix at Channelside and an adjacent 23 acres Vinik owns. Channelside would become a gathering place for downtown Tampa's hottest new neighborhood, tying together the nearby Tampa Bay Times Forum and Florida Aquarium and giving both downtown residents and visitors a signature experience. With his leasehold on the Forum as well, Vinik could master-plan the area with a unifying theme, and his broad financial stake in the area would give him every incentive to build a quality development.

These are the tangible and intangible benefits the courts should recognize with Vinik's bid. Though the Tampa Port Authority, which owns the land under Channelside, submitted a bid too, that was insurance against Channelside going to the wrong bidder. The port has no experience or interest in running an entertainment operation, but it has a broad public interest in ensuring that the public's stake in Channelside is protected with the right owner. The port board has embraced Vinik's proposal and both sides have the makings of a productive partnership. The terms appear fair for creditors and ideal for finally ending any ownership role for the Irish bank, the main issue in the bankruptcy proceeding.

The bid is expected to be heard July 15 in bankruptcy court. The judge should recognize the adequacy of Vinik's bid, his record and interest in following through with improvements, the value of sole ownership and local control and the business sense it makes to end this litigation. With the ownership issues resolved, Vinik can work on bringing the destination back. The city can focus on larger improvements that build on the Channel District's commercial base. And the port can return to its core business of being a commercial lifeline for millions across Central Florida.

Liberty Channelside will make no friends by pursuing a legal strategy that only further delays resolution and erodes the chance that Channelside lives up to its potential. It is hard to imagine the port and Liberty having a functional relationship, and now would be a graceful time for this rival to go away. It's one thing if Vinik's offer cannot stand on its own in court, but it's another for the court to be used in a way that only hurts the public's interest. The port should be a partner in the weeks ahead and do everything it can to see this exciting offer succeed.

Comments
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18
Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

The city of Tampa should have taken Tanja Vidovic seriously from the start when the Tampa firefighter complained about her treatment in the workplace. Now that a jury and judge have spoken, itís time for City Hall to cut its losses, learn from its mi...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

The dark cloud enveloping Tampa Bayís job placement centers keeps growing. There are accusations of forged documents, evidence of nepotism and concerns about grossly inflated performance numbers that could be tied to receiving more public money and b...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Even before the victims of another mass shooting at another public school were identified, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, state legislators and members of Congress rushed to South Florida or to social media to offer their thoughts and p...
Published: 02/15/18
Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

The Florida Department of Children and Families is right to call for a timely and "comprehensive" review of Hillsborough Countyís foster care system. Though the probe is a reaction to a recent case involving a child who was left unattended, the revie...
Published: 02/14/18

A Washington Post editorial: Modernize 911 calling before it becomes an emergency

This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the first 911 emergency call placed in the United States. Since then, uncounted lives have been saved and people helped. It has been a great accomplishment of government.But even as an estimated 240 million 9...
Published: 02/13/18
Updated: 02/14/18
Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Gov. Rick Scott always has been grudging and imperious about restoring the voting rights of felons, requiring them to wait for years before begging the governor and Cabinet to be recognized again as citizens. That arrogance is on full display in a le...
Published: 02/13/18
Another voice: ĎDreamersí donít know whom to trust on immigration

Another voice: ĎDreamersí donít know whom to trust on immigration

Immigrants brought into this country illegally as children by their parents may be wondering whom to trust. The political theater being played out in Washington hasnít settled the status of either the "Dreamers" or the estimated 11 million other undo...
Published: 02/13/18
Editorial: Promising Tampa stadium site for Rays

Editorial: Promising Tampa stadium site for Rays

While it came as little surprise, the Tampa Bay Raysí selection of an Ybor City site near Tampaís Channel District as the best spot for a new stadium is an important milestone in the effort to keep Major League Baseball. Now comes the hard work of de...
Published: 02/09/18
Editorial: Senate should reject Houseís attack on public schools

Editorial: Senate should reject Houseís attack on public schools

After pummeling public education so soundly last year, itís little surprise Republican state legislators are mounting another attack on public schools, teachers and local districts. The mammoth education bill passed by the House last week is loaded w...
Published: 02/08/18
Updated: 02/13/18