Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Fifth lien filed against team

Florence officials to try to meet with Freedom owners this week

By Brenna R. Kelly
Enquirer staff writer

A fifth lien has been filed against the owners of the Florence Freedom minor league baseball team in the Boone County Clerk's Office.

According to the liens, the team now owes contractors working on the stadium $1,736,894. McSwain Carpets, the latest company to file, says the team owes $3,260 for work that was finished June 15.

Last week, four other contractors filed liens against the team's parent company, Northern Kentucky Professional Baseball, saying they had not been paid.

Sunday night, the Freedom drew about 860 fans to the team's first game after the financial problems were reported, about 950 less than the team's average attendance. The team is scheduled to play at 1:05 p.m. today.

Last week, Paul Michel's Construction filed the largest lien, saying it had not been paid $843,856.

The other liens were filed by Central Acoustical Supply House, JTF Construction and Georgia Golf Construction.

The debt is a violation of the team's lease with the city of Florence. If it's not paid after a 30-day grace period, the city will evict the team, City Attorney Hugh Skees said Friday.

Mayor Diane Whalen said Monday she is trying to arrange a meeting with the team's owners, Connie and Chuck Hildebrant.

Their Cincinnati attorney, Dennis Buckley could not be reached for comment Monday.

More than a month after it opened, Champion Window Field is not finished.

The building has a temporary certificate of occupancy that expires Aug. 9, said Jim Key, Boone County's chief building inspector.

The owners are supposed to have everything in compliance with building codes by that date.

Key said he, too, would try to meet with the team's owners this week to see if construction work is progressing.

If the deadline is not met, another temporary permit could be issued or the building department could send the owners a certified letter saying they are in violation, he said.

The owners would then have 15 days to correct the violations before the matter is turned over to the county attorney.


E-mail bkelly@enquirer.com

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