County cuts a bit off $2.6 billion Marlins Stadiums bonds
Written by Jesse Scheckner on July 10, 2018
Up to $80 million in sports-related revenue refund bonds have been approved for issuance, a move that will save Miami-Dade County about $7.6 million through October 2039, according to Deputy Mayor Ed Marquez.
County commissioners Tuesday voted in favor of refunding, redeeming or rendering null a portion of bonds issued in 2009 to help pay for Marlins Stadium and related public infrastructure valued at about $123.4 million.
The county will refund about $74.1 million through 2039.
If issued by their Sept. 6 delivery date, the bonds will save the county about 7.2% of the amount of the refunded bonds – higher than the 5% minimum savings threshold required by the county, a memo from Mr. Marquez stated.
The tax revenue refunding bonds, referred to in the memo as Series 2018, will cover part of the $113.9 million outstanding from the original amount.
Payment of the sports franchise bonds is secured by pro sports and tourism taxes, Mr. Marquez wrote.
Arlesa Wood, director of the county finance department’s division of bond administration, will oversee the Series 2018 refunding bond sales.
Bonds totaling $319,342,986 to help fund construction of the ballpark are projected to cost taxpayers more than $2.6 billion to repay.
The five bond series issued by the county, Ms. Wood told Miami Today, include:
■Subordinate special obligation bonds, Series 2009, which the county sold for $91.2 million and will pay out $1.9 billion to investors by the time they reach maturity in 2048.
■Professional sports franchise facilities tax revenue bonds, Series 2009C, sold for $123.4 million and set to pay out $450.3 million to investors by 2049.
■Professional sports franchise facilities tax revenue bonds, Series 2009D, sold for $5 million, worth $9.43 million to investors by 2030.
■Professional sports franchise facilities tax revenue bonds, 2009E, sold for $100 million, to pay investors $202.3 million by 2049.
■General obligation bonds, Series 2010, sold for $51 million and valued at $69 million for investors by 2039.
Other costs for the stadium included a smaller bond issue, city land, exterior infrastructure, four city-built stadium garages, plus the architecture costs paid by the Marlins.
“Outside of Fidel becoming part owner of the team, nothing would have stopped the deal,” Mayor Carlos Giménez, one of three commissioners who opposed the 2009 deal, said at the time. “I’m not anti-baseball, but I’m anti-bad deal. Anyone with any sense can see this is cockeyed.”
Attendance at the enclosed stadium in Little Havana, which opened March 2012, was expected to surpass turnout numbers at Hard Rock Stadium (then Sun Life Stadium), the Marlins’ prior home, due to eliminated weather delays, its central location and a promise by team owners to improve player salaries.
The owners instead slashed the player payroll by 77% a year later. Pay then increased through 2017 to a franchise-high $111.6 million before another 24% reduction this year, according to web aggregator baseball-reference.com.
This year, attendance at the ballpark has fallen to an all-time low for the franchise, as well as the lowest attendance rate in the league, with an average home game crowd of 9,753 people – 26% of the stadium’s full capacity, ESPN.com determined.
The Marlins, according to ESPN, is the only team with a four-digit home attendance rate and is the least-watched team in the league overall.