Debt on Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins, could be paid off a decade early thanks to a robust economy generating higher-than-anticipated sales-tax receipts, lower interest rates and refinancing of the original bonds used to back the project.
Hennepin County originally floated $350 million in bonding, backed by a countywide 0.15 percent sales tax, for the $555 million ballpark, with part of the proceeds also used to fund county libraries and youth sports facilities. (Annually, the Hennepin County sales tax generates $36 million; $29 million is used to pay down ballpark debt, with the rest going to the county, a ballpark capital fund and youth activities.) Three sets of bonds made up the $350 million in bonding. One set, priced at $75 million, has already been paid off — and 21 years early, to boot. The rest of the debt could be paid off as soon as 2027 — a decade earlier than anticipated.
If that happens, the 0.15 percent sales tax would go away. That sales tax — a three-cent tax on every $20 spent — was a contentious issue when Hennepin County debated funding for Target Field, which opened in 2010. The ballpark has been a prime driver of redevelopment in the city’s Warehouse District and North Loop area; what had been a collection of underused warehouses and commercial buildings is now a thriving urban district filled with breweries, restaurants, condos and new office space. From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
“We’re out to save as much as we can,” said Commissioner Mike Opat, the lead architect of the plan to build Target Field.
An early payoff on the debt would mean that taxpayers would see an early end to the sales tax, which equates to 3 cents on every $20 spent.
“The sales tax has done OK,” Opat said. “We are also making the move to prepay [rather] than put it in the bank.”