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Company sues Super Bowl stadium operator over unpaid tab for venue's turf

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ST. LOUIS - As the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks prep for their showdown in next weekend's Super Bowl, a legal fight is playing out over the turf installed months ago at the NFL title game's venue.

Taylor Turf Installation Inc. is suing the MetLife Stadium's operators and the company that hired the suburban St. Louis company, seeking more than $292,000 that Taylor Turf claims it still is owed for hustling to install the New Jersey stadium's playing surface last summer.

Taylor Turf's lawsuit in New Jersey's Bergen County Superior Court names New Meadowlands Stadium Co. LLC and Dalton, Ga.-based Turf Industry Inc., doing business as UBU Sports.

Turf Industry did not return Associated Press telephone messages seeking comment Friday.

A MetLIfe Stadium spokeswoman said in an emailed statement that Taylor Turf's beef shouldn't be with the venue's operators, insisting New Meadowlands Stadium Co. LLC merely tapped the Georgia company to head the turf-installation project and has "no direct knowledge of the parties' contractual issues."

"However, we have been in contact with UBU and have indicated that we expect them to resolve this matter quickly and amicably." the stadium's spokeswoman said.

Taylor's president, Kelly Taylor, told the AP that his family-owned company has over the years laid the artificial playing surface in MetLife Stadium's predecessor in East Rutherford, N.J. — Giants Stadium — and several times in the Edward Jones Dome, home of the NFL's St. Louis Rams.

Winning the deal for the 82,500-seat MetLife, with every major U.S. turf company having bid on the work, "was a huge deal," Taylor said.

"We were beaming with pride, and we were all excited about the opportunity," he said. Given that the Super Bowl is a yearly global spectacle, this one being the first outdoors in cold weather, "we knew this field would be seen all over the world, so we gave it our best."

Taylor Turf crews expedited the MetLife work, completing the $417,000 job last July in 11 days — roughly half the typical time requirement, Taylor said. But Taylor claims payments were slow in coming, saying his company was given $125,000 early in the project "to appease us" and that he was repeatedly assured more compensation was on the way.

"All along, (chief contractor UBU Sports) kept saying, 'The payment's coming, but keep on working,'" Taylor said. "There should have been red flags from the beginning. At some point we should have stopped," stressing that "it doesn't matter how big or important this job is, we've got to get paid. But we didn't stop."

Taylor concluded that the incessant demand by the project's overseers for paperwork "was just a stall tactic."

"It's just a frustrating situation," said Taylor, whose decade-old turf-installation business is an offshoot of the Ambassador Floor Co. venture that his father launched in 1985.

It was not immediately clear Friday whether a court hearing on the lawsuit has been scheduled.

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