Swap to help pay Marlins Park debt
County commissioners voted Tuesday to rework three interest rate “swap” agreements to replenish hotel tax reserves that help fund future debt payments on Marlins Park.
The restructuring is expected to produce at least $30 million for the county’s convention development tax – or hotel tax – reserves.
The reserves have been drained and need to be replenished, as required in part of the earlier agreement for the county bond financing that built the ballpark in Little Havana, according to Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s office.
“We’ll be depositing it [the $30 million] into the reserves, which already have been spent,” Deputy Mayor Ed Marquez told commissioners.
As part of the current budget, the mayor’s office said, the balance of the hotel tax reserves was redirected to support hotel tax-eligible expenses in the Parks Department to help balance the budget.
In addition to Marlins Park and the Parks Department, much hotel tax revenue is used for debt and operating expenses at the county-owned Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.
The ballpark has been the most controversial, as its bond financing will result in ballooning debt payments taking up much of the county’s hotel taxes for years to come.
County bonds financed most construction costs for the 37,000-seat stadium. Completed in 2012, the stadium is owned by the county but operated by the Marlins as part of the deal that brought the Major League Baseball team to Miami.
Tuesday’s restructurings will extend two swap agreements until 2037, and a third will be terminated.
The mayor’s office described an interest rate swap agreement as an arrangement with a third party, usually an investment banking firm, to manage interest payments within its debt portfolio.