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Judge: Lackawanna County entitled to keep ballpark profits

SWB YankeesAn impasse between Lackawanna County and Luzerne County was broken by Senior Judge Harold Thomson, who agreed with Lackawanna County’s argument that it was entitled to all the profits from the operations of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (Class AAA; International League) after Mandalay Baseball and the New York Yankees took over management of the team.

The two counties have been sparring over the finances of PNC Field and the Yankees seemingly since the ballpark opened, but the ruling yesterday clarified matters considerably. Insiders we talked to weren’t surprised by the ruling: Luzerne County was basing its claim on a draft version of the 1986 agreement authorizing the purchase of the International League franchise; Lackawanna County was basing its claim on the final signed agreement.

The decision puts more money in the pockets of the Lackawanna County Multi-Purpose Stadium Authority as it works on a financial plan to renovate PNC Field. The county plans on putting the profits of team operations and the proceeds of a sale of the franchise to the Yankees and Mandalay into the ballpark renovation. Still to be determined in the legal spat between the two counties: how proceeds from the $14.6 million sale of the franchise should be distributed. Lackawanna County says it has spent $22 million on the team and that debt must be addressed with the sale proceeds, which ultimately knocks down Luzerne County’s share of the sale to nothing.

Still to be decided: whether $20 million in state money pledged by former Gov. Ed Rendell will indeed be committed to the project. That grant is under review by new Gov. Tom Corbett.

RELATED STORIES: PNC Field funding on hold; Luzerne County: SWB Yankees worth at least $25 million; Lackawanna County issues RFQ for PNC Field renovations; Debate rages over SWB Yankees sale; Yanks, Mandalay agree to buy SWB Yankees, unveil ballpark renovations; Compromise on the way in SWB ballpark squabble?; Rendell: Clock is ticking on new SWB ballpark financing; Counties continue spat; SWB Yankees likely to be sold this week; Lackawanna County: In a ballpark bind and mad; Squabbling could derail new SWB Yankees ballpark; Pols: Let’s not fix up PNC Field — or sell team to Mandalay, either

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