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Tampa Sports Authority to sue over pink stadium seats

By BILL VARIAN
Published January 19, 2005


TAMPA - It looks like Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans will have to endure another season of sitting in pink seats when they attend home games at Raymond James Stadium.

The company that made the seats has notified the Tampa Sports Authority that it probably will not be able to live up to a pledge to replace the now-fading red seats by next season.

After months of negotiating the replacement of some 50,000 of the 65,000 seats at Raymond James, Sports Authority members voted unanimously Tuesday to sue the seats' maker, Hussey Seating Co. of North Berwick, Maine.

"I think we've waited long enough," said Vincent Marchetti, a lawyer who sits on the Sports Authority, the governmental body that runs the stadium that the Bucs lease. "Clearly this is a defective product in the stadium that needs to be replaced. They've had plenty of time to get it resolved."

Hussey officials told the Sports Authority at a Jan. 6 meeting that a subcontractor that was supposed to make the plastic seat backs and bottoms is getting out of the business. The company has lined up another subcontractor, but that will likely result in a delay that could mean, at best, that only half of the seats would be replaced in time for next season.

Tuesday's vote came after a lawyer for the Buccaneers wrote a letter to the Sports Authority calling the developments "unconscionable." It blasted Hussey for not notifying the Sports Authority that there was a problem until two months after the work was supposed to have begun.

The letter, from Buccaneers general counsel Roxanne Kosarzycki, also says failure by the Sports Authority to get the seats replaced by 2005 will be considered a breach of its agreement with the team.

Andres Trescastro, the Buccaneers' director of security who attended the meeting, said the team simply is looking to resolve a long-simmering issue.

"We just want the (Sports Authority) to make sure they really, really start the heat in this situation," Trescastro said.

An attempt to reach Hussey Seating after business hours Tuesday was not successful.

In another matter, Tampa Sports Authority Chairman David Mechanik said Tuesday that the board's executive committee is planning to review how governments that run stadiums and arenas elsewhere in the state and country dole out free tickets to games if they have access to luxury suites. He said he expects the review to result in a written policy in how the Sports Authority distributes free tickets to a luxury suite it controls at Raymond James Stadium.

That effort comes after weeks of community discussion following St. Petersburg Times stories detailing how the Sports Authority uses its suite and the food and drinks those guests consume.

Bill Varian can be reached at 813 226-3387 or varian@sptimes.com

[Last modified January 19, 2005, 00:32:23]


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