Wamp Says County Limited Liability On Stadium Project That "Was Troubled From The Start"

  • Wednesday, February 21, 2024

County Mayor Weston Wamp said Wednesday that the county worked out an arrangement limiting its liability on the Southside Stadium project that he said "was troubled from the start."

He said the new funding plan saves county taxpayers $24.9 million in expenses.

On Wednesday at the County Commission, he outlined the latest version of the city/county/developer deal that has the county only involved in the initial $80 million in debt that was approved earlier. The city is to take on support for portions of cost overruns on the stadium that is now pegged at $115 million.

The county mayor said the county, for its part, decided to invest $10 million in Howard School and another $5 million in other schools within the stadium Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District. He mentioned Battle Academy as one possible recipient of the funds.

County Mayor Wamp said the planned school projects would be "front facing" and not involve such work as fixing HVAC problems at the school. He said that would be an issue for the schools.

One possible project mentioned was constructing a first-class facility for the Howard baseball program.

Officials said the Howard funding would be deployed no later than a year after the stadium opens.

The additional funding would be deployed no later than two years after the stadium opens.

The county mayor said the low-income community in the vicinity of the stadium "can only be revitalized by starting with our schools."  

County Mayor Wamp said, "In the rural parts of the county, the stadium project is met with skepticism to outright opposition."

Commission Chairman Jeff Eversole said many county residents "could care less" about the project and just want the issue settled.

County Mayor Wamp said much of the Howard $10 million could come from several current bond issues. He said that should account for $7 million to $8 million of the amount. He indicated the rest could come from the rainy day fund.

The additional $5 million would come from upcoming bond issues.

He said the $15 million for schools near the stadium would not impact a planned upcoming bond of some $200 million for several major school projects.

Chairman Eversole and Commissioner Steve Highlander said they would not want to see any rainy day fund money go to the $15 million in projects, saying the county is facing some dire needs, especially in roads and infrastructure in rapidly developing areas.

Officials said the city and county would vote next week on the new city/county Memorandum of Understanding on the stadium project.

The plan would be taken to the city Industrial Development Board, then to the Sports Authority. It would go back to the city and county and then for a final vote to proceed by the Sports Authority.

The project is at the U.S. Pipe/Wheland Foundry site.




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