ASU Stadium sacked with millions in debt - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

ASU Stadium sacked with millions in debt

November 9, 2007

Albany - Albany State is in deep financial trouble tonight. The ASU Foundation, which built the football stadium, is three months late on paying off a $2.3 Million loan.

The foundation doesn't have the money, and here's the kicker, $1 Million put up as collateral is from the Ray Charles Foundation. If the loan isn't paid back soon, they could lose that money, earmarked for a performing arts center.

The Golden Rams football team, ranked 6th among Division II teams in the Southeast. "The University has had a wonderful, stellar career in football," said University President Dr. Everette Freeman.  "The history is long and victories are numerous, but there was no home for the football team to play."

Until the Rams built their own house. A stadium that, in total, cost about $7.2 Million to complete. The Department of Community Affairs provided a $5 Million grant through the city for the stadium. And at that time, the foundation believed more money was on the way.

Freeman said, "If you're sitting there and you're about to start a project and you are two million short and you've got to get the project going and you have promises that the money is coming, what do you do?"

The foundation took out a $2.3 Million loan, but had to put up collateral first. "The collateral that we provided to secure the loan was the $1 Million that Ray Charles had given us as part of the overall $3 Million grant," said Freeman.

And for three years, they have made payments on interest, but in August, the remaining principal on that loan was due. Problem is, the money the foundation was anticipating, never materialized.  Freeman said, "The money just didn't come."

The ASU Foundation is now in talks with SunTrust Bank to work out some type of payment agreement, but are appealing to friends and supporters to keep them from defaulting and losing the Ray Charles money.

"I am appealing to alums to come forward," said Freeman, "Let's pay this debt off because we don't want to default. We need the $1 Million that SunTrust is holding to furnish the Fine Arts Center when it's completed." And keep the Golden Rams, from losing their luster.

State education dollars cannot be used to repay a loan on an athletic venue. Mike Marz, President of Suntrust Bank in Albany said he cannot comment on the loan or its repayment status because it would violate the privacy of a client.

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