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Tampa Bay Times' mystery investor uncovered: Ybor stadium developer Darryl Shaw

The Tampa Bay Times says investors have no sway in news coverage.
Credit: BluePearl Veterinary Partners website
Darryl Shaw

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – 10Investigates has confirmed Ybor City developer Darryl Shaw is one of the mystery investors who last year loaned the Tampa Bay Times $1.5 million each as the newspaper restructured its debt.

Shaw spoke to 10Investigates Monday after viewers expressed concern the Times wasn’t sufficiently scrutinizing the Ybor City stadium negotiations, of which Shaw is the primary landowner. 10Investigates reported on Shaw’s campaign donations to Hillsborough’s lead stadium negotiator, Ken Hagan, as well as Hagan’s efforts to keep talks secret.

Initially, Times CEO Paul Tash only identified four of the eight parties loaning the newspaper money, indicating some preferred anonymity. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and entrepreneur Dr. Kirin Patel were later confirmed as the fifth and sixth.

“The loan does not give the investors a stake in the Times' ownership, or a say in the Times' news coverage or editorial commentary,” Tash wrote in June 2017, anticipating the ethical questions that would later be raised by critics about fairness in coverage.

“I make that assurance because it's true (and the loan) documents themselves say this,” Tash explained later in an interview with an editor at Poynter, which owns the Times. “This is not the only financial relationship where we cover the other party.

"For example, one of our biggest advertisers is Publix Supermarkets. We write stories about Publix all the time.”

Shaw, who also founded Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners, said he invested in the Times because it was a low-risk loan, collateralized by the paper’s printing facility, and he is a long-time subscriber of the Times.

“I wanted to see an independent press in the marketplace and there is no other main newspaper here,” Shaw said.

Regarding the Rays stadium, Shaw told 10Investigates he has spent years trying to redevelop Ybor City into a revitalized, livable community, and will continue to do so with -- or without -- a stadium. He says a stadium would help accelerate development, however.

Other known Times investors include Tash and his wife Karyn, philanthropists Frank & Carol Morsani, developer and philanthropist Ted Couch, and Robert Rothman, chairman of a Tampa investment company and part-owner of the Washington Redskins.

One other investor remains unknown.

DISCLOSURE: 10News and the Tampa Bay Times teamed up in February for the nationally-recognized Zombie Campaigns investigation.

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Find 10Investigates' Noah Pransky on Facebook or follow his updates on Twitter. Send your story tips confidentially to npransky@wtsp.com.

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