The professional hockey team that played outdoors at Bowman Field from Oct. 24 until last Saturday has been locked out of the stadium by order of Mayor Gabriel J. Campana - until the city is paid for bills it's due.
The Williamsport Outlaws also are being sued for non-payment of rent for 19 of its players by an apartment owner and have lost their chance to play in Federal Hockey League postseason playoffs.
Campana said he had Streets and Parks Department personnel change the locks at the stadium and won't allow access to players' personal belongings until he gets $36,000 or more in utility bills that should have been paid by the team and/or the nonprofit affiliates that operated the ice rink.
Campana said he issued the executive order that doesn't require City Council's permission to switch the locks to prevent Don Kirnan, commissioner of the Federal Hockey League and president of the Syracuse Junior Hockey Club, the nonprofit organization that operated the ice rink, and the Outlaws personnel from retrieving their jerseys and equipment.
"There's no cash involved," Campana said. "I have made it clear that their personal belongings will not be given to them until outstanding bills are paid to the city. I am not confused and not mixed up. I am protecting the taxpayers."
Meanwhile, the Outlaws LLC has been sued by Edward Lyon and Kathryn S. Nassberg, owners of Penn Square Apartments, 960 W. Third St., seeking $10,800 in rent for 19 hockey players.
Lyon said he has a soft spot for the team players, who he said are not at fault.
"We're not kicking out about half of the team," Lyon said. "Some of them have no place to go."
The FHL announced late Thursday it has taken over the management of the Outlaws.
"This relates only to the on-ice aspect of the team," said Phil DeFranco, a league spokesman.
The action was taken by the league Board of Governors as a result of a decision by the Outlaws ownership refusing to play their remaining 12 road games.
Instead, the league has restructured the schedule for the remaining five teams and has filled all game slots, DeFranco said.
No games for any league team have been lost or rescheduled. Only some opponents have changed, he said.
Of the 12 remaining Outlaws road games, only four will be played, according to DeFranco. The Outlaws had completed their home season of 30 games, with three of those games lost due to inclement weather, DeFranco said.
Because the team had no home ice and was not in good standing with the league, the by-laws, regardless of their statistical finish, indicate they will not participate in the postseason playoffs.
To give the players a chance to complete their season, they have been given the options of reporting to their claiming team in a dispersal draft, continuing to play for the Outlaws or granted free-agent status, DeFranco said.
The Outlaws roster and head coach will be announced in upcoming days, DeFranco said, and teams will announce additions to their rosters as players are signed.