Lightning owner Jeff Vinik is a patient yet lucky man assembling properties surrounding Tampa Bay Times Forum and the beleagured Channelside property.
I wouldn’t want to play the man in Monopoly. He’d have hotels on Boardwalk and Park Avenue while I’m still trying to pass Go.
Vinik picked up the final residential homes in the Channelside District, just north of the Forum, the Tampa Tribune reports.
If you’ve never visited Tampa for a hockey game and wanted a festive pre-game hangout in the neighborhood, you would be challenged. That’s because everything feels so out of place and distant for being in the core of the city. To the west is a Port Tampa Bay Authority-owned Channelside plaza that a bowling alley, several bars and restaurants hidden from view save for the very noticeable Hooters and it’s where people board the Carnival cruise ships. To the east are professional buildings, hotels and the convention center while the south is basically the Marriott hotel and a back way around the Forum to parking. Then there’s the north.
When you lift your head up, you see downtown to the north, filled with skyscrapers and bank buildings. But when you look down, you see sandlots serving as parking lots, two vacant bars that have failed many times and a flour mill. It’s more of an extension of the industrial Port Tampa Bay than it is of downtown. But the oddity of it all, is that there’s a street of small homes, which the Tribune describes as shotgun style. Meaning, they are narrow, square, old homes. And they lead to that flour mill. Still, somehow not as bizarre as Marlins Stadium in Miami at the old Orange Bowl site that is smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood with shotgun style homes.
Now he owns about 25 acres around the Forum…except for that flour mill that ConAgra isn’t much for moving. He could also buy Channelside outright depending on what happens in a bankruptcy case and there’s always the idea that the Rays could find a home in the area. Tampa desperately needs a vibrant arena district and hopefully Vinik can deliver. Unfortunately, I don’t know how long I’m going to live in Tampa Bay, and I’d be disappointed not to experience it before I leave.
At least the old Penalty Box will be converted into a nice-looking Ferg’s by the start of the 2014-2015 season.
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