After commissioners voiced concerns over costs to maintain and operate a restored Miami Marine Stadium, they drastically reduced its bond declaration by 90% as well as the scope of work for the restoration.
The Miami City Commission passed an amended resolution Oct. 26, with $6 million in special obligation bonds to be issued for a boat launch, trailer parking and mooring field at the stadium. Commissioners decimated the bond amount from the proposed $61.2 million, which had included the development of a new welcome center and museum complex, as questions arose regarding the demand for a revamped stadium and who would cover its costs.
The agenda item was to declare the city’s official intent to issue $61.2 million in bonds to reimburse itself for expenses incurred in capital improvement projects at the marine stadium.
Commissioner Sabina Covo asked for clarification on how the reimbursement works. The city’s chief financial officer, Larry Spring, responded.
“As a normal part of our borrowing process, we issue intent to reimburse resolutions which allows the city to commence projects and utilize our savings account while we put the bond deal together and finalize the scope of work for projects that are going to be financed, and then we go to market. When we sell the bonds, the intent resolution allows us to pay ourselves back for what we use from our savings account during that process,” Mr. Spring explained.
When the debt is issued, the city can immediately reimburse itself for money it has spent toward the project, including site analysis and design. Mr. Spring further detailed that the bond resolution would free up financing for the marine stadium upgrades.
In April, the commission approved a $1.25 million grant from the Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND) Waterways Assistance Program for construction of a boat ramp and trailer parking at the stadium.
“We have acquired two grants that are supporting the completion of the boat ramp component that’s in this resolution as well as the mooring field in the basin,” Mr. Spring said. “We’ve gotten FIND grants so now when you pass this, we will be able to proceed with getting those two components finished and be able to accept and utilize the grant money, which is 50% of the project, so that was one of the critical reasons we needed to bring this intent resolution at this time.”
The commission initially passed an intent resolution back in 2016 authorizing $45 million in bond financing for the marine stadium renovation. However, the resolution didn’t advance to a bond deal before it expired in November 2021.
Mr. Spring put on the record that the city will have to absorb whatever capital costs were spent during that previous period. “It is our great intent to ensure it won’t happen again,” he said.
Commissioner Joe Carollo asked for a report on how much it would cost to operate and maintain the stadium as well as the demand for events and who would ultimately commit to paying for it for years to come.
He noted the administration has not yet provided the results of a marine stadium feasibility study, as requested in February 2022.
After hearing considerations from the commissioners, the amount was cut from $61.2 million to $6 million, which would cover matching funds for construction of a boat ramp and mooring field at the marine stadium basin. The reference to a welcome center and museum complex were removed and the amended resolution passed 3-0.