SBD/November 3, 2011/Facilities

Special Revenue District Will Help Pay For Arizona State Athletic Facilities

The full renovation should be done in 10 years and cost at least $170M

Maricopa County yesterday “created a special revenue district that will allow Arizona State University to develop or refurbish athletic facilities, the first step in a long-term plan by ASU to create an amateur sports destination,” according to a front-page piece by Michelle Ye Hee Lee of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. The County Board of Supervisors “voted unanimously to create the district, giving ASU the ability to collect revenue from commercial developments on 300-plus acres of property the university owns on or around its Tempe campus.” The funding mechanism is similar to a property tax, “but applies only to commercial developments on land the university owns.” Revenue raised in this way “eventually will be used to back bonds to fund construction projects for the university's athletic facilities.” The first project in line is "a full renovation of Sun Devil Stadium that is projected to take about 10 years at a cost" of at least $170M. Creation of the district will allow ASU “to issue construction bonds whose debt service will be financed by charges on developers building on or leasing property within the district.” The charge is in lieu of a property tax “because commercial developments do not pay property tax on university-owned land.” ASU VP/Public Affairs Virgil Renzulli said that construction “will not begin until there are commercial developments under way and there is a large enough revenue stream.” ASU President Michael Crow has said publicly that “he envisions ASU's athletic facilities by 2020 growing to become a major destination for amateur sports that is capable of hosting the Pan American Games and Olympic trials.” Meanwhile, ASU officials “estimate they could save $18 million to $23 million if ASU partnered with the Chicago Cubs to share the baseball team's new spring-training facility in Mesa” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 11/3).

CHANGE IS COMING: ASU Athletics COO Steve Patterson said that “a decision could be made by the first quarter of 2012 whether Sun Devil Stadium will be completely rebuilt or undergo ‘dramatic renovation.’” Patterson said that rebuilding “could prove too costly … although a renovation of the 53-year-old stadium would require extensive infrastructure work in addition to improving amenities.” In Phoenix, Jeff Metcalfe notes ASU “might have to play at University of Phoenix Stadium for a season depending on the construction/repair timetable” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 11/3).

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