Sacramento Mountain Lions team owner Pelosi promises back pay for coaches
Paul Pelosi, the politically connected owner of Sacramento's idled minor league football team, is being sued by a group of former coaches for back pay.
Pelosi, majority owner of the Sacramento Mountain Lions and husband of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, told The Bee on Tuesday that he will make good on the debts.
The prominent Bay Area businessman also said he hopes the Mountain Lions can resume play, possibly next spring along with the other members of the moribund United Football League.
He acknowledged that reviving the franchise requires paying off old debts first. "It can't happen until we get all the damn bills paid quickly," he said.
The Mountain Lions and the other three teams in the UFL suspended operations in midseason last October, citing cash flow problems.
After playing previous seasons in San Francisco and at Sacramento State's Hornets Stadium, the Mountain Lions played last fall's home games at Raley Field to sparse crowds.
At the time that play was suspended, Pelosi pledged to make good on all debts and resume operations in spring 2013. On Tuesday, Pelosi said league owners are looking at a 2014 restart.
He said Mountain Lion players have been paid but coaches and various trade vendors haven't.
"I'm committed to pay them, and they will be paid," Pelosi added.
He said he has the assets to repay the Lions' debts but is short on cash. He and his partners in the team would need to liquidate some assets or find loans in order to make good on the debts.
"I blew my liquidity on last year's activities," he said, referring to the team's woes.
Former head coach Dennis Green, who previously coached Stanford and the Minnesota Vikings, sued the Mountain Lions and the league last August, saying he was owed more than $1 million in back pay. The case has gone to arbitration, according to court records.
Last week, Pelosi and the Lions were sued by four former assistant coaches: Rick Courtright; Chuck Bresnahan, who once coached with the Raiders; Fabien Bownes; and Kerry Locklin. Also suing is Garrett Wolfe, who was the team's video assistant.
The suit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, seeks back pay totaling more than $200,000.
In court papers, the men say Pelosi lured them into going to work for the Mountain Lions by claiming the team "was in excellent financial condition."
The five are represented by attorney Harmeet Dhillon, vice chairwoman of the California Republican Party. She told the San Francisco Chronicle the lawsuit has nothing to do with Pelosi's Democratic connections.
Pelosi said he believes the league can be revived next spring, including the Mountain Lions. "Sacramento is an excellent market," he said.
One hurdle would be finding a place to play. A spring schedule at Raley Field would bring too many conflicts with the River Cats baseball team, he said.
He said he believes coaches of other UFL franchises are also owed money.
When it suspended operations, the UFL had just four teams, in Sacramento, Las Vegas, Omaha, Neb., and Virginia Beach, Va.
Read more here: http://www.mercedsunstar.com/2013/07/17 ... rylink=cpy