Three of the community leaders signing a pledge to back Ogren Park at Allegiance Field, home of the Missoula Osprey (rookie; Pioneer League), say they were coerced into backing the deal and are refusing to pay.
When nonprofit Play Ball Missoula began fundraising for Ogren Park at Allegiance Field, local business leaders were asked to guarantee construction loans on the project. Some 19 leaders ended up pledging some level of money, and when Play Ball Missoula ran into financial difficulties (which ended up with the city buying the ballpark), 15 of them agreed to honor their financial commitments.
Out of the remaining four, one declared bankruptcy and the remaining three are fighting a legal effort to collect, saying they were coerced into pledging the money by an officer of First Security Bank of Missoula, who was also raising money for Play Ball Missoula. From the Missoulian:
Senior bank vice president Hal Fraser, who died in January 2011, used his position of authority with the bank to solicit contributions and loans for the riverfront ballpark from customers and friends who “had an ongoing banking relationship” with First Security, managed by Fraser himself. With approval from the bank, he also held a fundraising position with Play Ball.
Fraser promised his customers the bank would never make them pay their guaranties and assured them the pledges were “only for purposes of showing community support for construction of a stadium facility.” “However, soon after Fraser’s death, defendant was notified that his ‘obligation’ … was being enforced.”
The lawsuit, filed by First Security Bank of Missoula, is seeking to enforce the contracts, arguing that the three defendants had full knowledge of the obligation. The story isn’t new — we first covered it earlier here — but the level of detail in the Missoulian article is striking, and we’d suggest checking it out.
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