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Ches-A-Rena, Cheswick to work out fee issue

| Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ches-A-Rena's promoter says he will work with borough officials to resolve his unpaid amusement fee and avoid a legal battle.

That's even though he questions the reasons for having to pay it.

Borough officials indicated this week they might be forced to take Frank Asturi to court because of his failure to pay. But, they said they would spend the next two weeks trying to work through the issue before filing any charges with the local magistrate or in Allegheny County court.

Asturi of Reserve owns the Ches-A-Rena business name but not the Pittsburgh Street facility itself. The building belongs to Alfred Panza.

Borough officials contend Asturi must pay the fee, which amounts to 5 percent of the revenue he generates through ticket sales.

How much Asturi owes the borough isn't known. Officials said the promoter has failed to submit monthly reports required under the amusement fee ordinance that detail how many tickets were sold and how much they were sold for.

Solicitor Tony Colangelo referred to the process of collecting the fee as "a work in progress."

Asturi questioned the need for having to pay, saying: "They told me it was to pay for police patrols and cleanup after events. Well, I already pay to have the police work during my events, and I take care of the cleanup."

Since the beginning of March, Asturi has staged a professional wrestling event and two concerts at Ches-A-Rena. He said each drew an average crowd of 750 spectators. He couldn't immediately offer a range for ticket prices, saying the promoters for the individual events handled ticket pricing.

Council adopted its amusement fee ordinance in February.

Asturi said the amount he pays police for their work during events can range from $200 to more than $400, depending on how many police are needed.

Some neighbors and business owners who work out of the plaza where Ches-A-Rena sits have voiced concerns about litter after the events and rowdy crowds. Others have said the litter always gets cleaned up in a timely manner and the crowds are good for the local businesses remaining open during events.

Borough Secretary Andy Bock said he's fielded "only one or two" formal complaints about the Ches-A-Rena. Bock indicated that Asturi has shown a willingness to work with borough officials when they voice concerns about Ches-A-Rena.

Additional Information:

Roller skating

Roller skating will return to Ches-A-Rena. Promoter Frank Asturi said he intends to open the rink shortly after July 4 and keep it open for skating every night of the week.

The only times when there wouldn't be skating would be during concerts or other events at the facility.

Asturi said that on those nights, he might open the rink for 'all-night' skates that run until 2 a.m. or 3 a.m.

Asturi said a pizza shop will open at Ches-A-Rena when skating returns. Skating would be open to all ages, except for the 'all-night' skates, which would be open only to people 18 and older, Asturi said.

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