City still owed at least $45,500 for ice venture

While the final figures have yet to be determined, it looks like the city is owed at least $45,500 by the defunct Williamsport Outlaws and the Syracuse Junior Hockey Club for their use of Bowman Field and the ice rink built there for professional hockey games and public skating events.

That’s what the city finance committee was told Tuesday by Mayor Gabriel J. Campana.

The committee was given a line-by-line account of expenses and revenues at Bowman Field during the meeting by city Controller Margaret “Peg” Woodring and city fiscal and budget officer Joseph Pawlak.

Campana said city solicitor Norman Lubin is preparing to file a lawsuit to recover the city’s losses against the organizations but cannot proceed until all of its losses are calculated.

The city has spent $75,000 on its hockey adventure at the ballpark, of which about $32,537 was previously planned for upgrades to the field’s electrical system and other improvements, said Councilman Jonathan Williamson, chairman of the committee, as he got his first glimpse of the accounting.

The $32,537 paid for upgrades such as portable toilets.

The next large anticipated expense will be to make repairs to the field once the rink is removed. City Council President Bill Hall said earlier this week he was glad that he suggested, and council agreed, that a $20,000 account be kept in escrow by the city for the necessary repairs of the field once the rink was removed.

Normal costs to prepare for baseball season are estimated annually at about $7,500, said William C. Wright, general manager of the city Streets and Parks Department.

However, Wright informed the committee he expects costs to be about $15,000.

Councilman Randall J. Allison questioned whether the city was able to sue a nonprofit organization. He also said the framework, set up and newness of the Federal Hockey League and the propensity of teams in the league to pick up and move is troubling.

For example, the New York Bluefins became the second Federal Hockey League team to fold within the past two weeks as the league announced the team’s disbanding in a newsletter Monday.

League Commissioner Don Kirnan, who Campana has banned and locked out of the home locker room at Bowman Field, said the Outlaws suffered an operating deficit of $250,000.

Campana said he’s not distracted by those who say the city won’t recover its losses.