Monday, June 23, 2003

Officials still seek refund for stadium

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Hamilton County commissioners are getting impatient after waiting 21/2 years and spending $1 million in an attempt to recover millions in unexpected costs during construction of Paul Brown Stadium.

"I would think that for a million dollars we'd be a lot further along than we are," Commissioner Todd Portune said, expressing a sentiment echoed by Commissioner John Dowlin.

However, they and Commissioner Phil Heimlich said they remain committed to the efforts of its private lawyers to recoup some of the $51 million in cost overruns.

"We are going to go forward," Dowlin said. "If we get the money back, it's going to have a great payout."

The county finished the $450 million riverfront stadium in August 2000. Commissioners and county prosecutors hired the Ice Miller law firm of Indianapolis in December 2000 to see what money the county could get back.

Ice Miller sent the stadium architect, Los Angeles-based NBBJ Architecture, a letter in the fall of 2002 seeking nearly $45 million, Portune said.

Eight months later, the county has neither received the money nor filed suit to get it back. County officials will say little about the issue because of the potential for litigation. Ice Miller is still looking into "the actions of a variety of people in the construction of Paul Brown Stadium," County Administrator David Krings said.

"It's not soup yet," Krings said. "I think in the coming weeks - or maybe the coming months - we should start seeing some results."

Ice Miller's legal bills include:

• Fees for several attorneys' time researching and discussing the issue, mostly at $240 an hour.

• Document copying fees, for which Krings has authorized spending up to $15,000.

• Professional services such as engineering fees to obtain and evaluate concrete samples.



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