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Tampa International Airport concession files suit amid denied bid

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

A company that had previously bid on retail space in Tampa International Airport is suing the airport because it didn’t win a contract. WDFG North America competed in a bid process along with several other companies. The contract for one of five packages was awarded to a retailer called Paradies.

That company is opening a Spanx retail store, the Body Shop, Dylan’s Candy Bar and a cluster of newsstands.

The bid was for “package one,” which allows concession companies to open stores in airside terminals

In its lawsuit, WDFG alleges the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority “erroneously” lowered its ranking, leading to the bid being awarded to another competing company.

Part of the problem, they argue, is that the board ignored WDFG’s audited financial statements and instead used an incorrect interpretation contained in a separate financial disclosure as a basis for ranking the company.

WDFG then submitted a protest to the board’s ruling that was later denied on June 4 during a board meeting.

Now WDFG wants the court to overturn the denial and “remand” the matter “back to the [Authority’s] board for further action.

WDFG filed the suit despite the fact that it had won at least one other bid. It’s not out of the usual for companies bidding for terminal retail space where vendors have access to travelers in limbo who have limited shopping options before or in between flights. Vendors often sell items easy for travelers to nab as last- minute gifts or some semi-necessary amenities for flights.

The company operates more than 550 travel-related stores in 20 countries.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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