Judge weighing arguments in Channelside bid

A hearing in federal court to determine the new rightful owner of Channelside has been extended another day as the two sides fighting for control of the troubled development have more witnesses to call.
 
Jeff Vinik, the owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning, won a bankruptcy auction earlier this month and agreed to pay $7.1 million for Channelside. Vinik also earned the approval of the owner of the land, the Tampa Port Authority.
 
But Liberty Channelside LLC challenged the auction, contending that the proceedings were fixed in favor of Vinik, and the group said it's willing to offer $10 million for the property.
 
In a bankruptcy courtroom in Wilimington, Del., Judge Christopher Sontchi listened to arguments from both sides Tuesday, but it was not enough time to conclude the hearing. Sontchi has agreed to resume the hearing Thursday morning.
 
The legal battle is the latest drama for Channelside, which has endured bankruptcy problems and the closing of several stores and a movie theater. Vinik has proposed rebuilding the complex into a venue featuring updated stores and eateries stretching from the Florida Aquarium to the Tampa Bay Times Forum.  
 
Officials with the Port Authority and Vinik's development company said they could not comment until the court hearing was completed.
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