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COUNTY PAYS $10 MILLION TO COTTRELL LONG FIGHT OVER DOME DRAWS TO A CONCLUSION

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Erie County paid developer Edward H. Cottrell $10.2 million Wednesday, all but ending the 19-year battle over a domed stadium that was never built.

The transfer of funds satisfies Cottrell's judgment against the county, leaving only one relatively minor issue: Who will pay $151,000 in printing and related costs associated with the long litigation.

The county supports a court ruling putting the onus on Cottrell, but the developer is considering an appeal of that decision.

Cottrell is keeping $151,000 in an escrow account while the issue is pending, County Executive Gorski said Wednesday during a press conference in the Rath County Office Building.

Gorski said the settlement was paid at 3:25 p.m., just hours after the county borrowed the money to pay the judgment by selling bonds.

Gorski displayed several items illustrating the protracted court battle over the domed stadium.

There was a photograph of a model of the stadium that Cottrell planned to build for the county in the Town of Lancaster, as well as a blueprint of the 60,000-seat facility. Gorski also piled up 75 separate books containing legal transcripts from the court case.

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The domed stadium was never built after county legislators of nearly 20 years ago, unhappy with the size of the bids for the facility, decided to scrap the whole idea and build the open-air Rich Stadium in Orchard Park instead.

Cottrell sued for breach of contract, asking $500 million. The initial court award gave the developer $62 million. The county appealed. The judgment then was dropped to $10 million. The court battled ended this year when an appeals court refused to reconsider the $10 million judgment.

Cottrell wasn't available to comment Wednesday, but his attorney, Victor T. Fuzak, recently said receipt of the money is no cause for celebration.

"It will be a sad day marking the end of a very sad situation Mr. Cottrell has lived with for nearly 20 years," Fuzak said.

The check is not a windfall for Cottrell, but rather partial compensation for the tremendous expenses he has incurred, Fuzak said.

The expenses include legal fees that neither Fuzak nor Cottrell has disclosed. The county's legal bill was $3 million over the course of the suit.

Since Cottrell first filed the breach-of-contract suit against the county in 1971, he has been through two trials -- one that lasted 42 weeks, the lengthiest in county history.

As the case meandered through the courts, it spawned dozens of hearings, hundreds of motions and millions of pages of documents.

"No one is going to get rich on this judgment -- no one," Fuzak said.

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