PAA contents set for sheriff’s sale
Pittsburgh Athletic Association needs funds for the county drink tax it failed to pay
Broke and by all appearances down for the count, the iconic Pittsburgh Athletic Association in Oakland is facing a sheriff’s sale of its furniture, paintings, kitchen equipment and other items next week for failing to pay the county’s 7 percent drink tax.
The auction, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, is slated to include the club’s liquor license, which was seized by Allegheny County sheriff’s deputies a month ago.
With the potential to fetch from $30,000 to $35,000, the liquor license could be the most valuable item to go on the block.
“As I understand it, there aren’t any club [liquor] licenses in Allegheny County available at this point,” Mike McCabe, solicitor with the county treasurer’s office, said Thursday. The ultimate sales price will depend on how much competition emerges to buy it, he said.
Association president Tom Trimbur did not return messages seeking comment on the pending auction. He has repeatedly declined to discuss the club’s finances.
The county is seeking to satisfy a judgment for just under $57,000 in back taxes, including $48,610 for the drink tax and $7,839 in hotel occupancy taxes.
The club, on Fifth Avenue across from the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning, hasn’t paid the drink tax in 18 months, court records show.
The judgement covers the period from October 2015 through August 2016, Mr. McCabe said. The county hasn’t yet obtained a judgement for more recent months, he said.
The association can stop the sheriff’s sale by paying its tax bill, he said.
A once-prestigious club — where Pittsburgh’s elite began gathering in the early 1900s to socialize and enjoy state-of-the-art athletic facilities — the Pittsburgh Athletic Association has sunk deep into debt in recent years amid declining membership and mounting bills.
The group has defaulted on a $2.6 million mortgage and owes hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid local, state and federal taxes and other bills.
Early last week, about 20 Pitt students who had been renting rooms at the club scrambled to find a new place to live when the water and then the electricity to the stately building were shut off because of overdue utility bills.
After the Pitt students moved out last week, the association’s board issued a statement saying directors were “working to reposition the 109-year-old club for its next phase of success.”
“Media reports speculating the permanent closure of the historic PAA clubhouse are false,” the statement said.