City sues ice hockey team owner

Legal action has been taken by the city against the Williamsport Outlaws, the hockey team that played its games at Bowman Field last winter before folding on Jan. 21, to recover $54,757 in unpaid bills.

According to the suit, filed in the Lycoming County Courthouse on May 30, the Outlaws owe the city for unpaid utility bills, plus a $7,500 rent check – half of the $15,000 fee charged the team for using the stadium for the season – that was due the city on Jan. 5,

The suit is filed against the Syracuse Junior Hockey Club, a nonprofit corporation registered in Dewitt, N.Y. that is headed by Federal Hockey League president Don Kirnan and which operated the ice rink, Williamsport Outlaws LLC, and club owner Kristin Rooney, of Phoenix, Ariz.

The city entered into an agreement on July 27, 2012 to rent out the field to the Outlaws from Oct. 1 through Jan. 20.

The suit states “at the end of the term the Hockey Club, at its sole cost and expense, was to remove the ice rink and related items and restore the playing surface to minor league professional standards by April 1, 2013.”

Through a legal doctrine known as “piercing the veil,” the suit asks that Rooney be held personally liable for the unpaid bills, since she was responsible for undercapitalizing the Outlaws, evidenced by “the disbanding of the hockey team, failure to pay the obligations under the agreement and failing to pay other creditors in the Williamsport area.”

The city and Rink Specialists, the company that rented out the ice rink, had to remove the rink in mid-March.

The annual Backyard Brawl high school baseball tournament, scheduled for May 11, had to be moved to Logue Field, before it was canceled for weather, because the playing surface was uneven with some dead turf.

Mayor Gabriel Campana says that “we’re okay up at Bowman Field, we’re fine.”

“Thank goodness we’re bringing in corporate sponsorship, in short term that will take care of the $50,000 (the Outlaws) owe us, which means we’re $100,000 in the black which is something positive. Hopefully through legal representation they’ll pay their legal obligation,” Campana said.

A local bank has entered into an agreement to buy naming rights for Bowman Field for $30,000 a year for five years that has not yet been finalized.

Campana says he cannot yet divulge the name of the sponsor-to-be, but he will be bringing the proposal in front of City Council and the Bowman Field Commission in a couple of weeks.