City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs announced today an agreement that allows the renovations of Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium – home to the Capital One and Russell Athletic bowls – to begin design work immediately with construction beginning no later than January of 2014.
As part of the plan, the interlocal agreement which was approved between the City of Orlando and Orange County in 2007 is being modified because of the impacts of the national economic decline. More importantly, this plan gives added protection for taxpayers by increasing reserve funds and establishing a backup plan in the event of another economic downturn.
“I think our community, if we have the right facilities, can host anything that the world has to offer,” said Dyer. “Beginning construction on the renovation will (help) ensure that we don’t lose the place in line that we have with our bowl games and, as most of you know, the postseason for NCAA college football is changing very rapidly and we want to make sure that Florida Citrus Sports has every advantage as it goes into negotiations.”
A renovated stadium would give Orlando a state-of-the-art outdoor events facility to team with the City Beautiful’s existing tourism amenities, including a nationally-recognized airport, nearly 115,000 guest rooms across 450 hotel properties and world-class entertainment and attractions. With over 52 million visitors, Orlando is currently the most-visited destination in the U.S. and has the infrastructure to accommodate large events such as the recent 2012 NBA All-Star game. An upgraded stadium facility positions Central Florida as a premier destination for neutral-site sports and entertainment.
“We’re united by our desire to make this a better community,” said Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. “We are committing over half a billion dollars of TDT (Tourist Development Tax) revenues for the three venues.”
Planned renovations to the stadium include a complete replacement of the lower bowl – leaving the upper decks that are the most-recent additions to the stadium – and will give Orlando what will amount to a nearly completely refurbished stadium. Additionally, the revamp will include more fan amenities such as restrooms and concessions, and additional club space to attract high-profile games and events. In conjunction with the planned Church Street streetscaping, which will revitalize the area leading from downtown to the stadium, and the addition of the $615 million Sun Rail transit system which will offer fans additional transportation options, the renovations will improve the overall fan experience at the Citrus Bowl for attendees at all levels.
The changes to the Interlocal Agreement will come before the Orlando City Council on July 9 and the Orange County Board of County Commissioners on July 10. Among the items announced by the mayors on Monday was the removal of the “Jacobs Amendment,” now allowing the city to issue bonds for the stadium sooner than anticipated. The city will issue bonds using revenue from the Tourist Development Tax (TDT), leaving property taxes untouched as a source of credit.
The City and County will establish two reserve funds to cover bond payments in the case there is not surplus TDT funds. These reserve funds do not change the amount of money obligated to the project by the City and County as any shortfalls would eventually be repaid when the surplus TDT funds become available.
Per the 2007 Interlocal Agreement, the City has set aside a $25 million reserve to back the bonds. This reserve is sufficient to cover Citrus Bowl bond payments for at least two years if there are no surplus TDT funds.
The County will establish a second reserve fund of $12.5 million. This money is an advance of the County’s TDT contribution to the project.
If, in any given year, the surplus TDT funds along with part of the bond reserve are insufficient to make the bond payments, the City will tap into its $25 million reserve fund.
The reserve fund would then be replenished by equal contributions from the County’s reserve fund and from the City. For example, if the City withdraws $4 million from its reserve, the City or the CRA will repay the fund $2 million with the other $2 million coming from the County reserve.
In the event the County’s $12.5 million reserve is depleted, it will not be replenished.
If TDT funds generated in any given year exceed the amount needed for the bond payment, for a 10-year period, the excess TDT funds can be set aside to cover future shortfalls or to pay down debt. This creates an additional “backstop” if there are years of insufficient TDT funds.