December 20, 2014

Elyria
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Lorain soccer academy going up for auction

ELYRIA — Brad Friedel’s former soccer academy will go for sheriff’s sale April 27 with an asking price starting at a little more than $4.8 million.

Premier Soccer Academies in Lorain.

Premier Soccer Academies in Lorain.

That won’t be enough to cover the approximately $9.5 million that Friedel owes to creditors on the sprawling complex that stretches across about 30 acres and opened to great fanfare in 2007.

But Friedel’s Premier Soccer Academy fell victim to the economic collapse in 2008 when corporate support dried up.

Friedel, a former Bay High School soccer standout now playing goalie for the Aston Villa football club in the United Kingdom, and his companies had taken out several loans to cover the cost of building the $10 million facility, but have since defaulted on the loans.

Friedel owes the bulk of the money — about $8.2 million — to RBS Citizens Bank, which does business as Charter One Bank. He owes another $1 million to Bank of America and has about $350,000 in unpaid property taxes, according to court records in the foreclosure case dealing with the property.

The county had the academy valued at a little more than $8 million, but an appraisal done for the sheriff’s sale puts the value of the buildings and land at about $6.7 million.

In addition, the academy includes fixtures, furnishings, computers, electronics and sports equipment valued at $515,470, according to court records. Among the items listed are a phone and security system valued at $100,000, a $40,000 walk-in cooler and 64 soccer balls valued at $20 each.

When those items are factored in, the total appraised value of the academy and its contents is a little more than $7.2 million.

Thomas St. Marie, the Elyria attorney serving as receiver on the property, said that it’s possible the sheriff’s sale may not go forward because the parties involved in the foreclosure lawsuit are still discussing the possibility of a settlement, although he’s not involved in those conversations.

It’s also possible that the banks will end up being the owners of the soccer academy if a buyer willing to pay enough to wipe out all the debt doesn’t come forward, said Lorain County Magistrate Ghada Halasa.

If the banks do end up buying the property, which isn’t an uncommon occurrence at sheriff’s sales, they typically list it with a real estate agent and try to sell the property, she said.

Up until last week, the former soccer academy was being operated by Rival Sports LLC, which held a variety of sporting events ranging from soccer to kickball leagues at the facility.

Rival had been able to keep the doors open and pay the utilities, but that wasn’t feasible any longer, St. Marie said.

“There’s not now enough revenue to cover the operation of the place,” he said.

Also going for sheriff’s sale will be the house at 341 Founders Circle in Avon Lake, which Friedel and his wife owned and used as collateral on the loans for the soccer academy.

That property had been valued by the county at $413,600, but the appraisal placed the value at $330,000. Because the starting bid in a sheriff’s sale is always two-thirds of the appraised value, the bidding in that sale, which is set for May 4, will start at $220,000.

Friedel has talked about saving the academy since it stopped operating but has thus far been unable to do so. In an August 2009 letter to the media, Friedel wrote that Charter One had scuttled a deal with a UK-based media company that had wanted to purchase the academy.

Friedel’s financial problems led him to file for bankruptcy in the United Kingdom earlier this year.

Media outlets in the United Kingdom reported Monday that Friedel has begun negotiating an extension to his contract, which had been up at the end of the season, with Aston Villa.

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