Stadium concessionaire says checks are good

Bankrupt Fine Host reassures bugle corps employed at Ravens games

February 24, 1999|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

Confusion over the financial restructuring of Fine Host, the concessionaire at the Ravens stadium, led to a delay in a charity getting money for work it performed at the stadium.

The Westshoreman Drum & Bugle Corps of Harrisburg, Pa., was one of several charities listed as creditors of Fine Host, the Greenwich, Conn., concessionaire that filed Jan. 7 for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code.

Officials with the drum and bugle corps received a form letter telling them of the filing last month in Wilmington, Del., and interpreted it as meaning they should not cash about $1,000 in checks they had received from Fine Host, said Pete Messina, the local business agent for the corps.

The corps, along with a number of other charities, had staffed a concession stand with volunteers during games in exchange for being able to keep some revenue.

After inquiries from a reporter, however, Fine Host told the group yesterday to go ahead and cash the checks and that it needn't have delayed.

"There was just a misunderstanding," said Brenda Adrian, a spokeswoman for Fine Host.

Fine Host's voluntary reorganization was negotiated in advance with creditors and included a court-approved provision allowing the company to pay all bills from suppliers and vendors that were received before the filing. The reorganization also allows note holders to convert their debt into equity in the company.

Four charities have not been paid for work last season in Baltimore, but for reasons unrelated to the bankruptcy, such as a delay in the groups filing certification as a nonprofit, Adrian said. She would not reveal the charities.

The Ravens are listed in the filing as one of the biggest creditors, with $618,045 owed to it for December stadium commissions. But Jim Bailey, the Ravens executive vice president, said yesterday the team has been paid and doesn't anticipate Fine Host's troubles to have an impact on stadium operations. The company will remain as concessionaire.

The Maryland Stadium Authority, which receives checks from Fine Host for banquets and other events at the stadium, has also received prompt payment, said Alison Asti, Stadium Authority general counsel.

"When we first heard about the filing it raised an eyebrow, but it hasn't affected us," Asti said.

Fine Host hopes to win approval for the reorganization in coming months and to continue as a going concern. It blames its troubles on accounting irregularities which overstated the company's financial results for several years. The irregularities sparked investigations by securities regulators and the firing of two top officers.

Pub Date: 2/24/99

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