Lehigh Valley

No deal yet in talks to end dispute over funding of Allentown arena

NIZ compromise still up in air

HANOVER TWP., Pa. - There is no deal yet to end the Allentown hockey arena lawsuit.

Hanover Twp., Northampton Co., which has led the legal fight over the project, met with attorneys Tuesday night but did not vote on a possible settlement. The decision dashes Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski's hopes for an end to the suit this week.

"No decisions tonight," said John Diacogiannis, chairman of the Hanover Township Supervisors.

Diacogiannis said supervisors need more time to review any new offers from Pawlowski.

Jerome Frank, the attorney who has represented the city in negotiations, was at the meeting.

The city is almost out of money for the arena, and a national expert on projects like this told 69 News that Allentown has virtually no chance of raising the extra money it needs until the lawsuits are resolved.

"Potential buyers into this transaction would either not have any interest in buying it, or would look for a much higher interest rate to compensate them for the risk that they might not get paid," said Matt Fabian, of Municipal Market Advisors, a 20 year-veteran of the municipal bond market who regularly provides analysis on national business news shows.

"You have a hole that cost you a bunch of money to create, but you'll have to pay back a loan on it," said Fabian. "And people generally don't want to pay back loans that finance holes."

Townships that are suing have said they don't want to sink the arena project, just negotiate a better deal for their taxpayers.

"We just hope that doesn't happen and we're gonna start negotiations as soon as possible and hopefully we can get this resolved," said Jon Hammer, South Whitehall Twp., Lehigh Co., manager, after the township voted last week to join the lawsuit.

Also Tuesday night, Palmer Twp., Northampton Co., became the latest suburb voting to join the lawsuit.

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