Freedom Hill Wins Parking Dispute

The operator of the currently mothballed Freedom Hill Amphitheatre in Sterling Heights, Mich., won a court judgment in a case with Macomb County over parking fees March 26th.

The U.S. District Court in Detroit ruled that Hillside Productions is entitled to revenue as set out in an agreement with the county, the Detroit Free Press said. Hillside and the county, which owns the shed, had a 75/25 parking revenue split, but county officials decided in a closed-door session last April to rescind the agreement.

"We’re not going to give up that money, which belongs to the taxpayers," county commissioner Phil DiMaria told the Press shortly after the decision.

Hillside immediately filed the $250 million suit and scrambled to put together its 30- to 40-date 2006 summer season, which would have launched that May, but shuttered instead. It was in the midst of a sale to Palace Sports & Entertainment, but Hillside said the change in the bottom line would throw off the sale. It did.

Hillside had a long and storied battle with the city of Sterling Heights over Freedom Hill, and the company won a judgment against the city in 2003, resulting in a $31 million settlement. U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds ruled that the city had gone too far in its efforts to shut down the amphitheatre and lifted an injunction the city had filed against the venue.

Hillside used some of the money to build a sound barrier at Freedom Hill, which was up shortly before the county’s decision to withhold revenue.

The county originally received a minimum of $125,000 every year even if its 25 percent take was less than that.

The county has not decided whether to appeal, the Free Press said.