DALLAS — Arizona State University will have a new way to issue debt with a stadium district authorized by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in Phoenix.
Under a plan approved this week by the board, the university would be allowed to raise revenue from future developments on more than 300 acres it owns around the Tempe campus.
The concept for the University Athletic Facilities District is similar to a tax-increment financing district, officials said. But the revenue would come from charges levied on commercial developers instead of taxes on increased property value.
The Arizona Legislature granted the authority to create the district in 2010 with passage of HB 2676.
The law permits supervisors in Coconino, Maricopa, and Pima counties to create university athletic facility districts to fund construction, renovation and improvements.
A seven-member board of directors for the new district will include two members from county government, four appointed by ASU, and a seventh member appointed by board itself.
With the revenue stream, the university would be able to issue bonds for improvements to sports facilities on or near the campus. The primary goal is to raise debt for the redevelopment of Sun Devil Stadium.
The football stadium, which once served as home field for the National Football League’s Arizona Cardinals and the site of the annual Fiesta Bowl, is more than 50 years old.
Virgil Renzulli, ASU vice president for public affairs, said that renovation of Sun Devils Stadium is expected to take a decade.
Other University Athletic Facilities District projects are expected to include Wells Fargo Arena, Packard Stadium, Mona Plummer Aquatic Complex, and Sun Angel Stadium. Karsten Golf Course could also benefit.
Tempe City Council member Onnie Shekerjian told the Arizona Republic that developments on ASU’s land are not likely to come soon, given the state’s current economic climate.
Arizona and the Phoenix area known as the Valley of the Sun have been harder hit than most major urban areas in the country. Thousands of homeowners owe more on their mortgages than the homes could sell for, and new home construction has ground nearly to a halt.
Tempe was the original site for the Cardinals’ new stadium to be financed by the Arizona Sports Tourism Authority, a state-created taxing district. Plans to build the stadium in Tempe were shot down by Phoenix, which claimed that the stadium would be in the path of air traffic at Sky Harbor International Airport.
ASTA then negotiated a deal with neighboring Mesa in the East Valley, but plans to call a voter referendum in the conservative city led to negotiations with Glendale in the West Valley.
In 2006, the Cardinals’ $455 million stadium opened in Glendale and now bears the name University of Phoenix Stadium. The stadium hosted the 2008 NFL Super Bowl and was named the site of the 2014 Super Bowl. It also hosts the annual Fiesta Bowl, which was originally at Sun Devils Stadium.
With professional sports migrating to the West Valley, Tempe and Mesa have fought to keep Major League Baseball spring training facilities with bond-funded projects. Tempe wants to improve its status as home to amateur and college sports, officials said.