New Stadium Funding Plan Has County With Reduced Role, But County Pledges $15 Million For Schools Near Stadium

  • Tuesday, February 20, 2024

A new funding plan for the Southside Stadium unveiled on Tuesday afternoon has the county with a reduced role in funding.

The change puts off a vote by the City Council and County Commission for yet another week.

Bond counsel Mark Mamantov told the City Council that officials feel confident that the stadium can be built for $115 million. There earlier were estimates as high as $120 million - up from the original $79.5 million projection.

The initial $80 million will be from city and county tax collections from the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District around the stadium.

The new plan includes an additional TIF collection from city taxes only toward the stadium cost. Attorney Mamantov said it is expected that at least $1 million in interest willl be earned from the original $80 million bond issue. This will be run through the city's Industrial Development Board.

The Lookouts will still put in $3 million toward the cost overrun.

A new wrinkle is that there will be an additional $5 million of debt issued through the Sports Authority. This debt would be backed up by hotel motel taxes and city share of sales tax collected in the section around the stadium.

Cory Gearrin, deputy county mayor, said as part of the overall agreement that the county agrees to put $10 million into improvements at Howard School and a later $5 million into further improvements at schools at the district. Those include Howard, Clifton Hills and Calvin Donaldson.

He said those improvements were meant to be "front facing" and accessible to the community.

Jenny Hill, council vice chair, said the main need at Howard is on the inside - a faulty HVAC system. She said she was advised that parts of the school "are uninhabitable because they are either too hot or too cold."

Concerning Clifton Hills, she said that school is already #2 on the list to be rebuilt.

Officials said the new funding arrangement is not completely worked out, but is "96 percent there."

Councilman Chip Henderson said he wanted to be assured that $115 million would be enough for a top quality stadium. He said, "I don't want to walk in and think, 'Oh, my God, what have we done?' "

He added, "I want to make sure that we have something we are proud of and the quality is still there."

City Engineer Bill Payne said some items are coming in lower than was budgeted. He said the project may be going to market "at the right time."

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