Thursday, October 12, 2000

Stadium bonds get county OK

Actual issuance to be in 2 weeks

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Hamilton County commissioners gave a green light to their financial consultants Wednesday to issue $310 million in bonds to build the Great American Ball Park and pay more than $46 million in cost overruns at Paul Brown Stadium.

        It'll be about two weeks before the bonds actually go to market.

        Financial consultant Ted Ricci, who works for the Cleveland-based Public Financial Management, said the bonds will have a life of 32 years. Last year, the county first said the Reds' bonds would remain on the books for more than 30 years.

        Interest rates are about 1 percentage point higher now than in 1998, when the county first issued bonds for Paul Brown Stadium. Mr. Ricci said he expects the county to pay a rate of about 5.78 percent on the next issuance.

        The county also is considering a plan that would pay off some of the 1998 bonds with the new bonds.

        Although the new bonds have a higher interest rate, the move might save the county money in the long run because it would lower the amount of debt service payments and would allow the county to issue fewer “capital appreciation bonds,” Mr. Ricci said.

        “When done within the total financial structure, it could save money,” Mr. Ricci said.

        The consultants said they are still studying the plan, and have asked county auditor Dusty Rhodes to take a look at it also. They will report back with a recommendation to commissioners in the next two weeks.

        Mr. Rhodes was leery of the idea.

        “It sounds like fuzzy math to me,” he said.

        The football stadium is now expected to cost taxpayers $453.2 million, while the ballpark is estimated at $330 million. When parking and tearing down Cinergy Field are thrown in, the total is more than $924 million.


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