In order to fund a new $639 million ballpark and parking complex for the Miami Marlins, team owner Jeffrey Loria was able to pursuade Miami-Dade County to kick in 70 percent of the cost. Sounds like a sweet deal, right? For Loria, absolutely, but for taxpayers its looking increasingly bad, reports Douglas Hanks.
Because, as Barry Petchesky at Deadspin points out, construction on the stadium needed to start and be paid for immediately, the county was forced to sell bonds on Wall Street at terrible terms. How terrible you ask? As Mayor Carlos Gimenez mentioned recently, just one set of stadium bonds worth about $90 million will cost close to $1.2 billion to pay back by 2048.
"The high interest comes from the penalty Miami-Dade must pay in exchange for a repayment plan that lets the county delay by 15 years making it [sic] first debt-service payment to the Wall Street lenders who bought the bonds," says Hanks. "Because Miami-Dade couldn’t afford a straight-line paydown of the loan — like a home mortgage — the finance team had to be more creative in borrowing the money on Wall Street. Unlike most bonds, these can’t be repaid back early either."
"Remember," adds Petchesky, "this $1.2 billion is only on one set of bonds. The total payments for all of the $500 million borrowed by the county will eventually come in at a whopping $2.4 billion. Not only did Jeffrey Loria get taxpayers to buy him a stadium, but they bought him the most expensive stadium ever built."