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A decision handed down by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last week should allow the construction of the Eagles stadium and Phillies ballpark to continue as planned. While the decision in Pleasant Hills Construction Co. Inc. v. Public Auditorium Authority of Pittsburgh arose out of a dispute in Pittsburgh, the ruling directly affects Philadelphia’s stadiums because the Eagles and the Phillies and then-Gov. Tom Ridge filed and were granted a King’s Bench Petition for the case in September. “All of the work and transactions completed and contemplated … by the teams were based upon having only to solicit three bids for general contracted work,” the complaint in the declaratory judgment action read. The complaint also said that if the Eagles were required to rebid contracts, the team would not be able to maintain the guaranteed construction prices that its private financing was conditioned upon if the Commonwealth Court’s ruling stood. The high court determined that the case was of “immediate public importance,” and unanimously ruled the contract awarded in the building of Pittsburgh’s newest stadium was not granted through an illegal bidding process, overturning the Commonwealth Court. William H. Lamb of Lamb Windle & McErlane in West Chester, Pa., represented the governor in the case. “It is a great victory. The supreme court’s decision was unanimous, which I think shows that the support the teams have,” Lamb said Friday. “I think we made it clear how important this was to the city and to these teams. From the governor’s standpoint, there are lots of other projects on the table. It means this act can be used to support other projects in the future, and the funding will be a lot easier.” The battle in Philadelphia began in Pittsburgh with Pleasant Hills. On appeal, the Sports and Exhibition Authority (SEA) had challenged a Commonwealth Court ruling that a $15.4 million plumbing and heating, ventilating and air conditioning contract awarded to Limbach Co., a Pittsburgh-based contracting company, was illegally granted. Limbach had made an $8.1 million bid for the plumbing portion of the contract, while Pleasant Hills made a $6.2 million offer. The contract, the Commonwealth Court said, violated bidding law, specifically Section 11 of the Public Auditorium Authorities Law (PAAL) and Section 1 of the Separations Act. Section 11 provides that contracts for construction should go to the lowest responsible bidder, and Section 1 provides that it is the duty of the decision-maker to receive bids for different elements of construction and that the award should go to the lowest bidder. SEA argued that the contract was lawfully awarded because the Capital Facilities Debt Enabling Act (Act 1) and the Capital Budget Project Itemization Act (Act 35) pre-empted Section 1 and Section 11. SEA argued that the language in Section 22 of Act 35 provided that “notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, the requirements of Section 318 of [the CFDEA] … shall provide the sole and exclusive requirements for bidding for the construction or renovation of a redevelopment assistance capital project.” The Commonwealth Court disagreed. “There is no explicit language in either Section 22 of Act 35 or Section 318 of Act 1 [the CFDEA] indicating that the Legislature intended to repeal the law or the Separations Act with regard to redevelopment assistance capital projects or to exempt such projects from them,” the court wrote. The supreme court said it was faced with the question of whether the Commonwealth Court erred in holding that the CFDEA did not set forth the “sole and exclusive” requirements for bidding on Redevelopment Assistance Capital Projects (RACPs) and that SEA was required to comply with the bidding requirements of the Separations Act and PAAL. The high court answered that question in the affirmative, holding that the only requirements for bidding on RACPs, such as the building of the two Philadelphia stadiums, are set forth in Section 318 of the CFDEA. “The solicitation of a minimum of three written bids is required for all general contracted work in redevelopment assistance capital projects,” Section 318 reads in part. SEA had argued that Section 22 of Act 35 made it clear that the CFDEA (act 1) set forth the only bidding process applicable to RACPs, and that in completing the bidding on the stadiums, it was only required to obtain a minimum of three written bids for all general contracted work and comply with the Steel Products Procurement Act, both of which it had done. The high court agreed. “The plain language of Section 22 makes it clear that the CFDEA sets forth the sole bidding procedures applicable to RACPs,” Justice Russell Nigro wrote for the supreme court. “The words of [Act 35] are clear and unambiguous. The sole and exclusive bidding requirements on RACPs are those set forth in Section 318 of the CFDEA, i.e., solicitation of a minimum of three bids for general contract work and compliance with the Steel Products Procurement Act. Nevertheless, the Commonwealth Court, under the guise of ‘statutory interpretation,’ took it upon itself to rewrite the statute.” Had the General Assembly intended for Section 318 to provide “sole and exclusive” requirements for soliciting bids, “it would have used the some form of the word “solicit” in Section 22 when constructing the section. “We conclude that the General Assembly did not intend ‘bidding’ to mean only bid solicitation, but rather meant for the word to encompass the whole bidding process,” Nigro wrote. Lori Litchman contributed to this report.

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