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Funding Details Emerge in Fayetteville

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When it comes to funding a new downtown ballpark, the City of Fayetteville and Cumberland County are lining up their proposals. 

After the city reached a memorandum of understanding with the Houston Astros on the High-A Carolina League facility, both governing bodies went to work on finalizing how to pay for their contributions. Cumberland County has released some details, with all signs pointing to its share being paid for increased property tax revenue generated within a special taxing district. According to the Fayetteville Observer, one option might be to extend a current taxing district in Fayetteville’s downtown, where funds are being used to pay for a parking garage.

A key piece of the puzzle is the city. It is already known that, under the terms of their MOU, the Astros will likely pay around $9 million over a 30-year lease. Fayetteville’s City Council has ballpark’s budget at $33 million and, while that is down from initial estimates, it still leaves room to cover financially.

As was expected last week, the city council reviewed a funding plan on Tuesday. One piece that the city is still waiting for is a letter of commitment from the county, according to Fayetteville mayor Nat Robertson.

Robertson did not say much about the funding model, beyond the fact that he wants to have it released by Monday. However, he did say that the goal will be to leverage a strong private/public partnership that avoids a tax increase. More from the Fayetteville Observer:

Robertson said Cumberland County would be the main partner with the city in funding the stadium, which would require the city to incur long-term debt and then use new revenues, such as from growth in the tax base around the stadium and stadium lease payments from the ball team, to retire the debt.

“We’ve got some private developers we are talking to,” Robertson said, referring to the financial plan.

“The basic funding model looks at how we can pay for it, expenses versus revenues, and with the partnerships we feel that are coming on board, we should be able to do that without a tax increase,” Robertson said.

The goal remains to have the particulars on the project in order by the end of this year. The ballpark would likely open in 2019.

UPDATE: Cumberland County officials are saying that as much as 75% of tax revenue generated by the ballpark and surrounding area could be redirected to cover costs, according to the Fayetteville Observer. The Observer also has an update on the letter that the city expected to receive:

On Wednesday, [chairman of the comissioners Marshall] Faircloth said the city hasn’t asked him to generate such a letter.

But, Faircloth said, if he did get the request, the county “more than likely” could generate a letter “pretty soon after it is requested.”

Mayor Pro Tem Mitch Colvin, chairman of the council’s baseball committee, said he would put the request into writing Wednesday and send it to Faircloth.

On Wednesday afternoon, The Fayetteville Observer requested from the city and the county copies of any such request and response.

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