City, General Elevator sue Speros over owed money Baltimore seeks return on defaulted stadium loan

February 16, 1996|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Brad Snyder contributed to this article.

Two more creditors -- including the city of Baltimore -- have sued Stallions owner Jim Speros, who has left town with not only his team but also more than $800,000 in debts.

The latest lawsuits in Baltimore Circuit Court were filed by the city, seeking $435,782 that it claims it is owned on a defaulted loan for Memorial Stadium improvements, and by General Elevator Company, which is suing for $25,560 in escalator repair costs and legal fees.

Speros, who has relocated the Canadian Football League team to Montreal, has said he intends to pay off all creditors once a $2.75 million loan from Canadian officials is approved for debts and moving expenses. But some of the creditors are wondering if they'll ever see the money.

"It's gotten to the point now that I don't expect it. He's left the country," said Steve Wilkinson of Wilkinson Corp., which is owed $18,667 for T-shirts, hats and other items it supplied to the team. The company is one of at least seven local vendors that have sued the Stallions for non-payment.

"What a fiasco it's become," Wilkinson said.

Among those suing the team are a computer supplier who provided $2,071 worth of computers and printers, an advertising company that says it is out $9,622 and a sporting goods store that provided $17,730 worth of uniforms and other equipment.

Speros couldn't be reached yesterday and his attorney in Montreal didn't return phone calls. In his final news conference in Baltimore on Feb. 5, he vowed to resolve the debts both to the city and to the more than 20 local business owners he owed money.

He said he will use a $2.75 million loan -- provided him by the governments of Montreal and the province of Quebec -- to settle matters back in Baltimore. Canadian officials have agreed to the loan in principle but have not yet signed over the money.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday by Baltimore litigators is the second filed by the city against Speros. Last year, the city sued him for more than $140,000.

City Solicitor Neal M. Janey said last night that Speros and city officials have had discussions about repayment. But Janey said he was unsure if any progress was made.

"It's fair to say that it's something that he's interested in settling, but we just haven't come to an agreement," Janey said of the money Speros owes the city.

The other recently filed lawsuit, by General Elevator Company, claims that Speros hasn't paid for repairs and cleanings of elevators at Memorial Stadium.

One local institution, the Baltimore Colts' Band, is paying off some of Speros' debts for him.

Speros purchased over $1,000 worth of public address equipment from Gordon Miller Music of Towson so the band could sit in the stands and play at Stallions home games. The music company asked the band to try and get its money from the team.

But Speros never responded, so the band's board of directors decided to repay the money themselves.

"We have to stay here the rest of our lives," John Ziemann, the band's president, said.

Ziemann said he is going to Gordon Miller Music today to pay the company the $1,075 Speros owes it.

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