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Published: Wednesday, 4/30/2008

Rossford trustee glad to put arena litigation in the past


Perrysburg Township may have lost $4.95 million and its legal fees as a result of the ongoing amphitheater saga with the Rossford Arena Amphitheater Authority that's lasted more than 10 years, but at least one township trustee thinks that's just fine under the circumstances.

In exchange for $50,000, the township agreed last week to forgo any future lawsuits against the RAAA or the city of Rossford with the exception of an appeal before the Ohio Supreme Court.

"We've exhausted many of our remedies," Trustee Robert Mack said. "There comes a time when you need to move forward as opposed to having ongoing legal expenses."

The $50,000 will be paid by the Ohio Government Risk Management Plan, which is the city of Rossford's insurance company.

"We're waiting for a ruling from the Supreme Court at this time on the $5 million [loan]," Township Administrator John Hrosko said. "We're not going to file any new lawsuits that I know of. Whatever's there is there."

The township has filed several suits against Rossford and the amphitheater authority since 1999, when it loaned $5 million to the amphitheater authority to build a hockey arena and amphitheater, which would've been built near the intersection of the Ohio Turnpike and I-75.

The $5 million paid for the cost of initial construction of the facilities, but when the amphitheater authority failed to secure long-term funding, the project was scrapped and the money could not be recovered.

Rossford Law Director Kevin Heban said the city regrets the money Perrysburg Township lost, but the situation is not unheard of.

"Oftentimes interim financing is used to build a project to get permanent financing," he said. "You do so with some risk, but hopefully you have permanent financing in place. The [amphitheater authority's] permanent financing did not come in place."

The Ohio Supreme Court has no time line on whether it will hear the case.

Rossford Mayor Bill Verbosky, Jr., a member of the amphitheater authority, would not comment on whether the settlement was a good deal for the non-profit group.

"It's a deal," he said. "That's the proposed settlement."

All of the township trustees who agreed to loan the $5 million are no longer on the board.

"We weren't the problem," Mr. Mack said of the present trustees. "But we're trying to be part of the solution."

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