LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Lee County will have to borrow 89-million dollars to pay for the new spring training home of the Boston Red Sox. At the same time, one commissioner is objecting to a plan to buy land for the Minnesota Twins.
"The bond companies are demanding extra money to cover accidents and cost over-runs for the stadium and practice fields," said Commissioner Frank Mann. "That is customary, so the 75-million dollar cost would appear to be greater."
Mann says he supports the Red Sox facility because visitors will pay off the bonds through their hotel taxes. "Not a single local tax dollar will go to that stadium," said Mann.
County Administrators explain: the cost of the stadium remains 75 million. However, the county must take out about 5 million in reserve funds, and it must spend roughly another million in bond issuance costs. So the total bond amount probably will be 81 million. That's what the county will bond and then re-pay. The 89 million dollar figure represents the maximum capacity of the tourist taxes, to pay back the loans over 30 years. It is very unlikely the county will need that much money for the project. The reserve fund protects the bonding companies against unforeseen accidents, disasters, cost over-runs, etc.
However, the county administrators also are pushing a plan to spend 5-million dollars to buy 15.6 acres of land, next to the Minn. Twins facility. Mann said, "That is a bad idea, I strongly oppose it, because the land is appraised by our property appraiser at 1.3 million. So paying 5 in a recession, is not good. I will not support that."
The Twins would use the extra land for more practice facilities.
Commissioners are supposed to approve the Red Sox bonds next Tuesday.