BRADENTON, Fla. — Central Florida officials announced an agreement Monday that will enable the long-planned renovation of the 76-year-old Citrus Bowl stadium to move forward.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs ceremonially signed footballs as a gesture of their plan to finance improvements at the stadium, which was constructed as part of the Works Progress Administration project by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936.
Orlando plans to issue $140 million or more of revenue bonds to finance the work, though officials won’t know the total cost until bids are received.
The bonds will be secured by a mix of revenues, not ad valorem taxes. The underlying plan is to use tourist development tax revenues to pay back the debt.
The elected boards of the respective mayors will be asked to approve the plan of finance in about two weeks.
Once the plan is approved design work can begin. Construction would start in 2014.
Both mayors said they wanted the aging facility to once again lure major events, and that it had the potential to be a top draw.
The Citrus Bowl and two other major projects were approved in a comprehensive deal between the city and the county in 2007.
Financing moved forward on a new arena for the National Basketball Association’s Orlando Magic.
The Magic’s Amway Center opened in the fall of 2010 with more than 20,000 seats and other modern facilities.
The recession set in before all the financing for a $425 million performing arts center could be arranged.
A down-scaled PAC is under construction, though there are plans to enlarge the facility as revenues from tourist-development taxes, or TDTs, recover.
A $175 million renovation of the Citrus Bowl was part of the 2007 package.
Construction was to have started in 2009, but the project was delayed altogether due to the recession and its impact on TDTs. Generally, the bowl will be modernized and new club seats, restrooms and concessions will be added, among other improvements.
“The Great Recession has taught all of us a new meaning for the term 'worst-case scenario,’ ” Dyer said. “Accordingly, this new stadium deal includes a number of different safety nets that will ensure the project moves forwards even if problems with the TDT arise.”
The Citrus Bowl typically hosts special events such as the Capital One Bowl featuring teams from the Big Ten and Southeastern Conference, the Russell Athletic Bowl, formerly known as the Champs Sports Bowl, and the Florida Classic football games between Bethune-Cookman and Florida A&M. The stadium has also hosted national championship games and concerts.