Portland Pirates sue Cumberland County over lease

4:50 PM, Sep 6, 2013   |    comments
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PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Things are getting nasty between the Cumberland County Board of Trustees and the ownership of the Portland Pirates.

PHOTOSPress conference

An attorney representing the Pirates says he has filed a lawsuit against the county.

Civic Center trustees stopped negotiating a lease agreement with the Pirates after the team's ownership failed to meet a deadline last Thursday. That came after the trustees offered the Pirates what they said was their final offer.

If there was even the slimmest hope that the two sides could still reach an agreement to have the Pirates play here this season that is now gone. It appears the only way the Pirates will be back in the civic center is if ownership wins this lawsuit.

At issue is whether or not the county and the Pirates had a deal last April when they announced they had reach common ground on terms for an agreement. Several items from that initial agreement were changed for the final offer. One major change was the Pirates take on alcohol sales during the game. The county learned from the state that they could not share that revenue because the county was the liquor license holder. That' is not the only item keeping the two sides apart. The chairman of the trustees says that initial agreement only spelled out items the sides agreed to and was subject to negotiations and final agreement by the full board.

"If we had a deal in April what were we negotiating the last several months? So again, it's desperation. It's unfortunate because I never thought we'd get to this point. Legally speaking I think it's a highly questionable legal claim", said Chairman Neal Pratt.

The Pirates attorney says that agreement is binding and the trustees pulled if off the table.

"In June 2013 the evidence will show the civic center started taking actions, started a course of conduct, which was clear that they wanted to get out of the deal", said Harold Friedman.

The board chairman says this week the trustees gave the Pirates one last chance to sign their final offer. They gave the Pirates until the end of business day today. Instead they say the Pirates responded by serving the trustees court papers.

Full, unedited raw video of press conference and Neal Pratt's reactions posted on the left of the screen.

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