CHICAGO - The Illinois Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority is warning state lawmakers that without legislation allowing the agency to restructure a portion of its $2.1 billion debt portfolio, it will have to tap a state sale-tax backup to cover debt service as tourism taxes are expected to fall short this year.

Legislation that allows the MPEA, also known as MetPier, to extend the final maturity of its debt by six years to 2048, raise its debt ceiling by $350 million to $2.5 billion, and increase the pledged level of sales taxes in the later years of the debt service schedule to $350 million from $275 million cleared the Senate Revenue Committee last week. The additional $350 million borrowing capacity would finance construction of a new tower at the convention center's hotel.

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