DALLAS - Moody's Investors Service upgraded the sales-tax-supported debt of Corpus Christi, Texas, to A1 from A2 Dec. 16, citing an increase in pledged revenues.

The upgrade came in advance of a $42 million refunding of bonds for an arena project and a baseball stadium from the Corpus Christi Business and Job Development Corp.

The upgrade affects $29 million in outstanding sales tax debt for the city's Seawall project.

"Pledged revenues over the last ten years have been generally improving although declines in 2009 and 2010 were representative of the national recession," said Moody's analyst Kristin Button. "The declines of 3% in 2009 and 10% in 2010 were followed by increases of 9% in 2011, 14% in 2012 and 8% unaudited for 2013."

Corpus Christi pledges a one-eighth-cent sales tax to the projects, providing debt service coverage of 1.7 times for the arena, 2.78 times for the baseball stadium and 2.18 times for the Seawall project, according to the ratings agency.

The sales tax was approved by voters in a 2000 bond election.

The baseball stadium, known as Whataburger Field, opened in 2005 at a construction cost of $27.7 million. The stadium is home to the Corpus Christi Hooks, a double-A farm club of Major League Baseball's Houston Astros.

The American Bank Center Arena was completed adjacent to the American Bank Center Convention Center in fall 2004. The arena is home to the minor-league hockey Corpus Christi Ice Rays and an indoor football team. The seawall begins at the site of the arena.

Corpus Christi's $354 million of outstanding GO debt is rated Aa2 by Moody's Investors Service and AA-minus by Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings.

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