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Objection filed against Vinik’s winning Channelside bid

— The losing bidder for the Channelside Bay Plaza isn’t going down quietly.

Liberty Channelside LLC on Tuesday objected in federal bankruptcy court to the bid process and the selection of Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, who last week submitted the winning $7.1 million bid for a lease on the entertainment district property.

In its objection, Liberty offered $10 million for the plaza, whose popularity has waned in recent years. The motion asks for the court to put a hold on Vinik’s winning bid.

Liberty Channelside LLC called the bid process a sham and complained of collusion between Vinik’s group, Port Tampa Bay, which owns the land underneath Channelside Bay Plaza, and Irish Bank Resolution Corp., which is liquidating the property through federal court.

The networking between the three parties, according to Liberty Channelside’s motion, resulted in fewer organizations bidding on the property and thus reduced the value of the bidding. Liberty did not submit a bid in last week’s auction.

In May, Liberty Channelside offered $7 million for Channelside Bay Plaza, $100,000 less then Vinik offered in the July 2 auction. But Liberty Channelside’s offer wasn’t embraced by Port Tampa Bay, Liberty said in the motion filed in bankruptcy court in Delaware.

“If all interested bidders had been treated with the same opportunities for discussion and negotiation, the ultimate auction price for the Irish Bank Resolution Corp. Interest and the Loan Documents would have been higher by millions,” according to Liberty Channelside’s motion.

Also Tuesday, the Irish Bank Resolution Corp. submitted a motion in federal bankruptcy court asking the judge to dismiss Liberty Channelside’s motion for a stay.

“Liberty’s misstatements regarding the manner in which it was notified about the Sale Process and the timing of various communications regarding the Sale Process have previously been directly refuted ... in related filings in this case,” according to Irish Bank Resolution Corp.’s motion.

The federal court is scheduled to hear Liberty Channelside’s motion at 11 a.m. July 15 in Delaware. The court is scheduled that same day to hear attorneys present the conclusion of the bid process and Vinik’s winning bid.

In addition to the $7.1 million, Vinik also offered a $10 million letter of credit to help fix maintenance problems on the Channelside structure. Port Tampa Bay has made a successful bid of $3.5 million for a mortgage backing the complex.

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