Contending that it owes them a larger reimbursement for ballpark improvements, the Pittsburgh Pirates are not ruling out legal action against the owner of PNC Park.
The issue between the Pirates and ballpark owner Sports & Exhibition Authority of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County (SEA) is the amount of money that the team is owed for upgrades that were completed at PNC Park prior to the 2017 season. On Thursday, the authority approved a $2.6 million reimbursement to the team for some of those renovations. However, the Pirates–who say that they spent over $10 million on upgrades before the 2017 campaign–had sought a $4.5 million reimbursement, and contend that they are owed the remaining $1.9 million.
SEA officials believe that they properly followed the due diligence process in making their decision on what was a reimbursable expense, but the Pirates have come out in disagreement. Via team senior vice president Bryan Stroh, the Pirates indicated that they will not rule out taking the authority to court over the issue. More from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
“It’s not a dollar-for-dollar where they seek reimbursement and we pay them,” board Solicitor Morgan Hanson said. “There’s a due diligence process that we’re required to do under the lease to ensure it’s a correct reimbursable expense. That process was followed with the use of several different experts and independent consultants at arriving at this amount. We respect that they have a different view on that issue.”
Stroh said the team would seek the remainder in court if necessary.
“This does not resolve the outstanding capital repairs the Pirates put into PNC Park over a year ago,” he said. “We intend to continue to pursue our rights under the lease.”
The two sides have argued for more than a year over how much the authority was obligated to pay.
The SEA pays for capital improvements through money generated by a 5 percent surcharge on tickets. The Pirates receive the first $1.5 million generated annually by the surcharge and the SEA receives $650,000, authority Executive Director Mary Conturo said. Anything left over goes to the team, she said. About $2.5 million remained in the fund after Thursday’s payment.
Among the upgrades that were completed prior to last season included seating replacements, along with a new out-of-town scoreboard, improved field lighting, and new carpeting and painting in some areas of the facility. SEA owns PNC Park and the Steelers’ Heinz Field, among other area venues.
RELATED STORIES: Pirates, SEA Spar Over PNC Park Upgrades