Try 3 months for $3

In the simplest terms, Larry Crain Sr. wanted to bring his NBA Development League team to La Crosse, play some basketball and make some money doing so.

The La Crosse Center Board, which governs the 6,000-seat arena, listened to Crain's proposals, discussed them in closed session on three occasions, and let it be known that it, too, had to make money.

In the end - and Thursday was indeed the official end of the negotiations - there were several different sets of numbers tossed from each side. Interpreting those numbers was much more difficult than a double-double or a triple-double that one of the RimRockers players might have recorded.

The bottom line is the sides failed to reach a compromise. The negotiations are officially finished.

"It's a shame since we were able to overcome all of the issues except the arena agreement which should have been the simplest of all considerations," Crain wrote in an e-mail to the Tribune. "The RimRockers took a chance on La Crosse based on the history of what La Crosse had accomplished in the past from being in the CBA.

"Now, at the 11th hour the city tried to hold us hostage. If I would have had any idea this would have happened, we would have stayed in Little Rock. It is now too late to salvage anything for the 2007-08 season."

La Crosse Center director Art Fahey spent Thursday afternoon communicating with the Center Board to see if there was interest in reconvening the board one more time. The answer, he found out, was "no."

Board Member Phil Addis, who also headed a sub-committee that led the negotiations, said this in an e-mail to Crain, and to the board members:

"I have polled all members (except one, whom is unavailable) of the Center Board regarding your last e-mail. The Board feels that since this is the same offer which was presented to us on Tuesday, therefore, there is no need to call another special meeting to reconsider the same proposal.

"As you are aware, by its terms the offer expired at noon, Thursday, May 24, 2007…"

The sides appeared to reach an agreement late last week when minority owner Dave Pretasky - who had agreed to purchase 25 percent or $250,00 interest in the team - believed the only obstacle remaining was who would pay for a new, or refurbished, floor. That wasn't necessarily the case, Fahey said.

"The major facility of those additional discussions between the board - sub-committee of (Doug) Farmer and Fahey, who were there - when it came back to the board it looked seamless to the ownership group. The (full) board had not seen that (proposal). The board didn't double back or do different things. The full board never moved from their original position," Fahey said.

"From the ownership side of things it looked seamless. The sub-committee found some (middle) ground that would work, but it did not."

Jeff Brown can be reached at (608) 791-8403, or jbrown@lacrossetribune.com

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