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Fargo-Moorhead Liberty owes money to Moorhead School District, local private businesses

FARGO - The Fargo-Moorhead Liberty semi-professional football team owes the Moorhead School District almost $15,000, but the team's owner says the bill will be paid in full.

The team also owes money to the Fargodome and several privately-owned media companies. That includes about $11,000 owed to Sundog Interactive, a Fargo marketing company.

"We fully intend to pay them," said Dale Heffron, the team's owner and coach who lives in Willmar, Minn.

The money owed to the Moorhead district is for rental of practice facilities, locker rooms and use of the high school stadium, says Moorhead High School activities director Don Hulbert. The total bill is $14,700, according to Hulbert.

"We'd like that income. Obviously with our situation we want to be paid for services rendered," Hulbert said.

The Liberty played its first season last summer, using Moorhead High's Jim Gotta Field as its home. The team had a 12-1 record and won the Northern Power Football League championship.

The school district has sent several notices to Heffron but hasn't received a response, said superintendent Lynne Kovash. She said the money is a substantial amount for the district.

"One of the problems is that we were confused as to where to send it. We had a couple of addresses," Hulbert said. "I've been told by an assistant coach that Dale intends to pay us and we appreciate that, but we need to get this taken care of. When you lose communication with someone, can't get ahold of them, that concerns us."

A problem with his business last year is why the bills have gone unpaid, Heffron said. He said he sued BNSF Railway Co. over a building dispute. Heffron said he had about $500,000 tied up in the building and the dispute stopped his income.

Court documents show Heffron Properties LLC of Willmar filed suit against BNSF Railway Co. and Herbert Beam in U.S. District Court in Minnesota in September.

The suit was sent to Kandiyohi County District Court in December.

"That's the only reason I haven't paid them yet, is that loss of income," Heffron said. "We fully intend to pay them once the lawsuit is settled. I owe them the money. I acknowledge that. If I wasn't going to pay them I would've filed for bankruptcy.

"It's not that anyone has ever intended to shirk their responsibility. I have my house for sale. We're doing everything we can."

Fargodome general manager Rob Sobolik said the Liberty owes $1,200-$1,400 for building rental last summer. Sobolik said Heffron paid a deposit before the June game.

Sundog Interactive has not been paid for any of its services, company executive Jim Heilman said. Heilman said he tried to work out a payment plan with Heffron for the $11,000 bill, but hasn't been able to reach an agreement.

"It is definitely a source of frustration," Heilman said. "He's almost impossible to get ahold of."

The Liberty also owes money to CableOne, according to regional sales manager Cheryl Carlson. The team owes money to several other privately-owned media companies that don't wish to be indentified, according to multiple sources.

Despite the Liberty's financial problems, Heffron said the team will return this year.

"We're looking at a lot of bad publicity, but we intend to pay. We'll be back," Heffron said.