A seven-year battle of how to divvy up the proceeds of the sale of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Class AAA; International League) is close to settling, with Luzerne County to potentially receive $4 million.
A little history here. Lackawanna County and Luzerne County are in a dispute over the $14.6 million received after the sale of the team to SWB Yankees LLC. Lackawanna County says it’s entitled to all the proceeds because it maintained PNC Field to the tune of $20 million. Luzerne County says it’s entitled to half, because the county originally contributed half the money to buy the team and build the ballpark in the first place. The letter establishing the partnership didn’t clearly set out the terms of an exit deal.
Discussions about how to divvy up the money has been contentious between the two counties, but those with clearer heads — the lawyers — told Luzerne County Commissioners their legal case wasn’t quite as strong as anticipated: because Lackawanna County had financed the team and stadium authority, there was a strong argument they were entitled to a greater share of the proceeds to cover their past expenditures.
And, at the end of the day, coolers heads are apparently prevailing. Instead of pushing this to court, Luzerne County commissioners decided to accept a $4 million settlement offer. It’s not final, as Lackawanna County commissioners still need to sign off on it as well. From the Citizens Voice:
“According to what they’re telling us, the contract is not that strong. I’m not going to go into more detail,” Councilman Tim McGinley said. “We’ve been fighting this battle for how many years? Since 2007? 2008? This is the best settlement possible at this point in time because this is the best settlement available.”
Other council members wanted that fight to recover the sale proceeds to continue.
“The contract never said a word about the stadium authority,” said Councilman Stephen A. Urban, who was one of the former commissioners who filed the county’s lawsuit. “Lackawanna County owns that stadium. They are free to use that stadium for whatever they want.”
RELATED STORIES: Luzerne/Lackawanna Litigation to Drag Into 2017; Year after RailRiders debut; SWB counties still in legal fight; RailRiders ownership spat likely to go to court; PNC Field renovation continues, but court battle for Yankees looms; Sale, ballpark issues for SWB Yankees settled; Luzerne County: SWB Yankees worth at least $25 million