A revised budget for a new Florida Marlins ballpark pegs the total cost of borrowing on the project to be $1.9 billion — and we expect that number to be a prime topic as the city and Miami-Dade County discuss the final agreements for the project today.A revised budget for a new Florida Marlins ballpark pegs the total cost of borrowing on the project to be $1.9 billion — and we expect that number to be a prime topic as the city and Miami-Dade County discuss the final agreements for the project today.
The new number was revealed to Miami-Dade County commissioners late last night, as County Manager George Burgess formulated a plan to borrow the money using existing hotel taxes.
The issue, really, is that the hotel tax won’t generate enough revenue to satisfy existing bonds and a new ballpark, especially after a decline in revenues is taken into account. Some of the existing bonds extend through 2037. So the plan is to sell new bonds to settle old debt, and then use hotel-tax money to address the new ballpark — now requiring $323 million in publc money — and the new debt.
Burgess’s report didn’t address anticipated interest rates for the project, the market for the bonds, or how they would be backed. In general, the credit markets are in turmoil now, and even seemingly safe sales like municipally backed bonds are a hard sell. It’s unconceivable any Wall Street firm would sell the bonds without requiring the county to back them with general funds.
The city is debating the measures right now (you can watch the streaming video here), while the county commission will discuss them this afternoon. It’s pretty clear the city will approve the deal: its participation in the ballpark funding is capped at $13 million, so the costs of borrowing money will not affect city finances.