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March 10, 2009

Marlins stadium funds to run dry?

That swing vote on the city commission may finally be within reach for the Florida Marlins, but the economy is delivering less rosy news for the team's now-$639 million stadium proposal. (And no, I haven't figured out yet when the price tag went up another $30 million.) The Miami Herald, which last month reported that projections of hotel taxes slated to pay off stadium bonds seemed overly optimistic, has downgraded that assessment to totally nuts, given that county hotel tax receipts were down an astonishing 22% in January, prime tourist season:

With January's decline, combined hotel-tax revenue is down 9 percent for the 2009 budget year.
Should that trend continue, the county's stadium plan would face shortfalls on ballpark bonds from 2014 to 2029, according to a Miami Herald analysis of the county's stadium financing plan.
The mounting deficits would burn through a planned $26 million reserve fund and leave a deficit of $22 million, the analysis found.

The Herald wasn't clear what it meant by "should that trend continue" — if tax receipts keep going down 9% a year for how long? Forever? Still, the prospect of a $48 million shortfall can't be making county commissioners less antsy about approving the deal — nor can this from the South Florida Business Journal:

The property tax projections that helped Miami-Dade County's $3 billion so-called megaplan gain approval have to be updated to account for condo projects that were not built or finished.
Miami CFO Larry Spring told the Business Journal that the last time the projections were updated was in December 2007 — as the nation's economic meltdown was gaining momentum.
If the updated numbers come in lower than the earlier projections, the general fund might have to be tapped to make up for shortfalls — a key criticism of megaplan opponents.

That'd be the CRA money, for those following along at home, which is being counted on to free up those hotel tax revenues so they can be used on a Marlins stadium.

The city commission is now scheduled to meet to vote on the Marlins project on Thursday, March 19 at 9 am; assuming they approve the deal, the county commission will meet Monday, March 23 at 1 pm. I'll have links to webcasts here once I get them.


I'd guess that Miami is assuming 12-24 months of continued recession, after which we'd return to a normal growth pattern, which would leave them chronically short for the remainder of the agreement period.

Building in a structural deficit, but at least one council member gets a payday. Guess that makes it worth it.

New analysis about what the loss of horse racing at Cal Expo would cost...

They have a small, but profitable, business that brings in little traffic, and they want to replace it with a large business they acknowledge can't make money for decades (if it ever does), forcing a couple hundred million in traffic improvements immediately. Yeah, that's a good idea.

Posted by MikeM on March 10, 2009 02:05 PM

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