Maricopa County supervisors approved a debt refinancing plan last week that provides funding for improvements to baseball spring training facilities in the Phoenix area.

The Maricopa County Stadium District will refund up to $31 million of car-rental tax revenue bonds issued for the Cactus League stadiums. The district has not issued bonds for stadium projects since 2002.

Daren Frank, director of the stadium district, said the refunding should provide current savings of at least $1.2 million. Lower annual debt service will provide additional funds for the baseball facilities, he said.

Savings from the refunding will flow to the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority.

AZSTA’s board approved the refunding in April.

The stadium district bonds are supported by the county’s $2.50 per day tax on rental cars.

An agreement in 2003 provided that any revenue in excess of the district’s operational expenses and debt-service costs would go to AZSTA.

The revenues were dedicated to debt service and financing of improvements at existing stadiums. The agreement will expire in 2019.

However, declining tourism-related revenues have resulted in no district surpluses since 2008 and no payments have been made to AZSTA since then.

Revenues were allocated to debt service with little left over for stadium upgrades.

The stadium district’s bonds are rated BBB-minus by Fitch Ratings.

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