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Published: Monday, 6/4/2001

One more blow

The Rossford Arena Amphitheater Authority has been awash in bad judgments that have left creditors holding the bag and taxpayers, including those in Perryburg Township, in a state of aggravated angst.

This project has flat-lined. Shouldn't somebody finally pull the plug?

By early this year the RAAA had scuttled the indoor ice arena portion of their plan and hoped to salvage the outdoor amphitheater. It canned the Michigan firm it had hired to find a manager and arrange financing in favor of a Chicago management firm, VSOP, which offered the dream of outdoor shows in Rossford this summer. VSOP was to run the amphitheater and book the acts.

But by March VSOP also was asked to arrange financing, some $6 million, to get things up and going, the better to generate a cash flow to pay off the RAAA's $18 million debt. However, the size of that debt makes finding new lenders difficult to say the least.

Had it been possible to schedule shows this year, they would have provided both a psychological and economic boost to creditors such as Lathrop Co., owed $18 million; Perrysburg Township, which owes close to $1 million in interest on its $5 million loan to RAAA, and the carpenters' union, owed $2.4 million.

If there is any room for optimism now, it centers on getting funding to complete the amphitheater and firming up bookings for the 2002 season. Where that money will come from remains unclear, but there are prospects for developing contractual income streams that might persuade bankers to fork over more cash. In addition final drawings for the complex remain to be completed.

Clearly the RAAA's reach can't match its vision. It has a lot to answer for to taxpayers and creditors who appear to have been sold a bill of goods on its doability.

It has also suffered from incompetence that had the RAAA leaping from manager to manager, with little effect. It's no wonder enthusiasm has given way to cynicism.

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