City Council Member Says Fort Wayne Should Be Getting Bigger Return on Stadium Contract

By Jeff Neumeyer

September 1, 2010 Updated Sep 1, 2010 at 5:46 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- A ribbon cutting Wednesday marked the grand opening of a new Courtyard by Marriott Hotel at Harrison Square.

But the thorn in the side of Harrison Square continues to be the condo and retail development, which is showing no signs of life.

One Fort Wayne city council member says the city should try a different approach to get some return on its investment regarding that stalled project.

First District Council Member Tom Smith says it would be a mistake to sue Barry Real Estate or Hardball Capital, the partnership that is supposed to be working on the project.

Instead, he urges the city use the threat of legal action as leverage to get a better management agreement on the baseball stadium.

Right now, after ticket sales at the ballpark top the 275,000 mark, the city gets one dollar in revenue sharing for every additional ticket sale.

Last year, that brought $125,000 to the city, money that is set aside for long-term maintenance on the facility.

Smith believes the city should be getting a cut on concessions, more revenue sharing dollars, and some help paying the utility bills at the stadium.

Tom Smith/(R) Fort Wayne Council, 1st District: " I think that's a reasonable discussion to have with Hardball Capital, they've got a contract that is very fair to them and I think the city takes it kind of on the chin in that contract, it could have been a better contract, but now let's take a look at it again. I think Hardball is doing very well, now is the time to ask them for a little more money."

Other council members have recently advocated for Mayor Henry's administration to fine the developers for not delivering the condos, their responsibility under contract.

City Redevelopment Director Greg Leatherman has long argued against the idea of filing suit against the condo development team, which he says would create an adversarial situation with the owners of the TinCaps, and drive up attorney costs for both sides.

Leatherman will be discussing the city's options for enforcing the condo contract with council at its September 21st meeting.

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