Justia Pennsylvania Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Entertainment & Sports Law

In 1985, the Board of Commissioners of Lackawanna County formed the Multi-Purpose Stadium Authority of Lackawanna County. The Stadium Authority subsequently acquired a minor league baseball team, now the "SWB Yankees." Capital was raised via bonds and other public financing, the Authority constructed the Lackawanna County Stadium, now known as PNC Field to serve as the home field for the franchise. From 1989 to 2006, the Authority managed all projects at the Stadium, including the day-to-day operations of the team. The Authority eventually consummated a management agreement with Mandalay Baseball Properties, LLC, a private entity, which vested Mandalay with the overall management and control of the day-to-day operations of the baseball club and the Stadium. Under the contract, Appellant SWB Yankees, LLC became the sole and exclusive manager of all baseball operations and other entertainment activities and events conducted at the Stadium. Gretchen Wintermantel, a reporter for the Scranton Times Tribune (collectively “Appellees”), submitted a request to the Stadium Authority seeking “access to and copies of all names and the bids submitted to [Appellant] for a concessionaire contract at [the Stadium].” Appellees invoked the Right-to-Know Law, which generally provides for access to “public records,” of a Commonwealth or local agency. The Stadium Authority’s solicitor denied the request, stating that the Authority did not possess such information, and that it was not performing a governmental function on behalf of the Stadium Authority. Appellees appealed to the Office of Open Records, taking the position that any action by Appellant as the Stadium Authority’s agent is public business. In its opinion, the court of common pleas initially rejected Appellant’s argument that the bids for a concessionaire contract were not “records” for purposes of the Right-to-Know Law, since Appellees’ request was phrased broadly such that it might be read as subsuming intangible information. After Appellant lodged an appeal, the Commonwealth Court issued its decision in "East Stroudsburg University Foundation v. OOR," (995 A.2d 496 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2010)) determining that “all contracts that governmental entities enter into with private contractors necessarily carry out a ‘governmental function’ [for purposes of Section 506(d)(1)] --because the government always acts as the government.” Having reviewed the relevant statutory scheme, the parties’ arguments, and the record, the Supreme Court agreed with the appeals officer, the court of common pleas, and the Commonwealth Court that the disclosure of any written concessionaire bids is required per Section 506(d)(1) of the Right-to-Know Law. View "SWB Yankees, LLC v. Wintermantel" on Justia Law