Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Debt-ridden Tall Stacks sues

Souvenir firm never paid, lawsuit says

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

DOWNTOWN - The Greater Cincinnati Tall Stacks Commission, still in debt from last October's record-breaking festival, has sued a souvenir company that it blames for the event's financial problems.

Tall Stacks claims that Pro Sports International still hasn't paid $50,000 in sponsorship fees and unspecified royalties on the sales of Tall Stacks T-shirts and other novelty items. Tall Stacks drew a record crowd of 800,000 people downtown over five days but will still likely lose money, organizers said.

Forrest Fairley, the chief executive of the Madisonville sports marketing company, did not return calls seeking comment. The company also does business as PSI 20/20 Promotions Inc.

PSI sold merchandise for the riverfront festival through the Tall Stacks store at Tower Place Mall, on the Internet and at the event. The lawsuit said some customers haven't received orders they placed online.

Tall Stacks was supposed to get up to 20 percent of the profits on those sales, but the commission said it doesn't even know how much money it's owed because PSI hasn't opened its records, the lawsuit said.

PSI also hasn't paid its sponsorship fee, the lawsuit said. Sponsors received free cruise tickets, admission buttons, advertising and other perks.

"They wanted to be a $50,000 sponsor. We gave them the benefits of that, and they never paid us," said Tall Stacks lawyer Leonard A. Weakley Jr.

The breach of contract suit was filed in Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas and seeks damages to be determined at trial.

The Tall Stacks Commission owes the city of Cincinnati $311,000 for police and fire overtime John Cranley, the chairman of City Council's Finance Committee, said the amount of that bill is non-negotiable.


E-mail gkorte@enquirer.com

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