November 24, 2014

Elyria
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Foreclosure filed on former Lorain soccer academy

ELYRIA — The facility that once housed Brad Friedel’s Premier Soccer Academies in Lorain has been foreclosed on, according to court documents.

Friedel

Friedel

No date has been set for a sheriff’s sale on the approximately 28-acre property, and the property has not yet been formally appraised for such a sale.

The parcels of property that housed Brad Friedel’s Premier Soccer Academies on Leavitt Road in Lorain could go up for sheriff’s sale in the near future. (CT photo by Steve Manheim.)

The parcels of property that housed Brad Friedel’s Premier Soccer Academies on Leavitt Road in Lorain could go up for sheriff’s sale in the near future. (CT photo by Steve Manheim.)

Even though Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Edward Zaleski approved the foreclosure order Jan. 7, that doesn’t necessary mean the property will end up on the auction block.

Lorain County Magistrate Ghada Halasa, who handled the case, said a deal between Friedel’s companies and their creditors could prevent the property from going to sheriff’s sale.

“My understanding is they’re still working on a settlement,” Halasa said Wednesday.

Friedel could not be reached for comment and his attorney said he wasn’t authorized to discuss the case. An attorney for RBS Citizens National Bank, which does business as Charter One Bank and holds the bulk of the more than $9 million in debt court documents said the academy has, did not return a call seeking comment.

Frank Griffith, whose Rival Sports LLC currently runs the facility with offerings ranging from kickball games to youth soccer leagues and workout programs, declined to comment on the foreclosure order.

Friedel, a Bay Village native who currently plays goalkeeper for the Aston Villa football club in the United Kingdom, opened the $10 million facility — with an initial class funded by corporate sponsorships — to much fanfare in 2007. But the national recession hit the academy hard.

The academy laid off all but one paid staffer, then-Chief Operating Officer Craig Umland, and scrapped upcoming activities.

Umland, who according to court documents is no longer with the academy, had hoped to keep the facility operating by charging a yearly fee of $37,500 to students, but only three boys applied.

The financial woes of the academy led to unpaid bills and creditors began taking legal action.

According to court documents, as of Aug. 31, 2010, Friedel and his company owed nearly $8.2 million on three loans he took out through Charter One.

As of March 15, 2010, he owed about $1 million on another loan to Bank of America, the court documents said.

In addition, the Lorain County Auditor’s website lists more than $346,000 in unpaid property taxes on the various parcels that comprise the facility, which the county values at about $7.6 million.

In August 2009, Friedel sent a letter to the media in which he said he remained “totally committed” to the academy and said he was working on a deal to sell the facility to ROK Entertainment, a UK-based media company. That deal was rejected by Charter One, but Friedel said in the letter he hoped that a deal could still be reached.

“Our organization has struggled since the collapse of the world economy,” Friedel wrote in the 2009 letter. “Saying that, we are perservering the best we can.”

In a separate lawsuit, a foreclosure was granted last month against Friedel for an Avon Lake home he owns that also was used as collateral on the loans he took out for the academy. That home, at 341 Founders Circle, is valued at $413,600, according to the auditor’s website.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.