Thursday, August 12, 2004

Ballpark roofer claims Freedom owes $23,478

Roofing firm says it's owed $23K; red ink now at $3.7M

By Brenna R. Kelly
Enquirer staff writer

BURLINGTON - The debt against the owners of the Florence Freedom climbed again Wednesday.

Holland Roofing of Cincinnati filed a lien claiming the company has not been paid $23,478 for work done on Champion Window Field. The team's owners, Northern Kentucky Professional Baseball, now face 21 liens valued at $3.7 million filed by 19 contractors.

Monday, Bickers Metal Products filed a lien for $211,305 for work it performed under a contract with JTF Construction, the stadium's main contractor.

JTF also filed a lien for $581,464 July 22.

Chuck Hildebrant is a 20 percent owner in the Northern Kentucky Professional Baseball.

Hildebrant and his wife, Connie, signed a personal guarantee to pay for construction of the stadium if the group does not fulfill its obligation.

The ownership group announced last month it is looking for new investors. The team was not able to make its rent payment to the city of Florence Tuesday. The team paid $5,000 of the $197,617 in an effort "to demonstrate the intention of NKPB to move forward with the Florence Freedom," attorney Dennis Buckley of Cincinnati wrote in a letter that accompanied the check. The team has until Sept. 10 to make the rest of the payment or default on its lease with the city for the 30 acres under the stadium.

Also, the team's temporary certificate of occupancy expired Monday. Boone County Building Inspector Jim Key did not issue a new certificate.

"The facility is thus illegally occupied," Key wrote in a letter notifying the team of the expiration.

The owners now have 11 days to correct several items, including handicapped parking signs and an assisted listening system for people with disabilities. Also needing attention are the grading of the field and the depth of the dugouts, and a suitable fire alarm needs to be installed. If the items are not corrected, the building inspector will turn the case over to the county attorney, who could file criminal charges against the team's owners.


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