Birds bite back 

The vice president and general manager of the Missoula Osprey is calling foul on a baseball stadium critic, and has obtained a protective court order on the grounds that he and his staff feel threatened and harassed. Matt Ellis obtained a temporary restraining order Aug. 30 against Keith Blackwell, who lives nearby the riverfront stadium and says that while he has been openly frustrated by the Osprey’s handling of traffic during games, he doesn’t think his actions merit the court order.

“Our staff felt threatened, I felt harassed and we just felt we had to do something to ensure the safety of those around us,” Ellis says.

In the restraining order application, Ellis writes that Blackwell “has engaged in a series of communications which has become abusive, threatening and slanderous towards the Osprey organization, Matt Ellis and his family, and the staff/employees of the Osprey,” citing Blackwell’s website and e-mails he’s sent to Ellis. He also cites an Aug. 26 incident in which Blackwell confronted Osprey parking staff with “abusive language.” Of that incident, Blackwell says he called an Osprey employee an “asshole” after a brief argument over the parking barricade on Hickory Street, which patrons were circumventing and Blackwell was monitoring. While he says he regrets his language, Blackwell insists that his conduct, e-mails and website have not been threatening.

“I didn’t know people could fill out reports for being a big baby and having their feelings hurt,” says Blackwell, who promises to object to the temporary order at a Sept. 19 municipal court hearing scheduled to address the issue. Ellis says he’ll pursue a permanent restraining order at the hearing because Blackwell’s behavior is “over the top.”

He says the Osprey have worked to address Blackwell’s complaints and continue to work with other neighborhood representatives over concerns about noise and parking. Blackwell’s complaints center on post-game traffic; he says Hickory Street is supposed to be barricaded off from traffic, according to the stadium’s agreement with the city, but that the stadium hasn’t held up its end of the bargain, resulting in speeding traffic and littered streets.

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