Newly reported figures from Hennepin County confirm what was predicted earlier this year: debt on Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins, could be paid off a decade earlier than projected.
We reported on this back in January, but information released by Hennepin County this past week makes it even more likely the bonds could be paid off by 2027.
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 is used to pay down ballpark debt, though a portion of the proceeds goes to 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. Proceeds from the sales could be the highest every in 2017. All in all, the original estimate was that the bonds would cost $675.6 million with interest, but with early repayment and refinancing the amount is set to be reduced to $585.2 million.
Public financing of sports facilities is always a subject fraught with debate. But it’s hard to argue with the success of the countywide 0.15 percent sales tax. Target Field has spurred a host of development and rising property values in the Minneapolis North Loop area, and additional sales-tax proceeds have funded additional open days for libraries and millions in facilities grants and youth facilities. The additional sales tax, covering three cents on every $20 purchase (which piggybacks off Minnesota’s progressive sales-tax structure; food and clothes are not subject to the sales tax), has been a highly effective way to finance a community amenity.
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