Pima County will have to rely next year and beyond on its general fund for debt service on bonds used to build Tucson Electric Park after the Arizona Diamondbacks completed their final spring training at the facility last week. The team will move its spring training operations to a new stadium near Scottsdale in 2011.
The county issued $30 million of bonds in 1997 to build the training complex, of which about $22 million is outstanding. Debt service on the stadium construction bonds is about $3 million a year, but anticipated revenue will be about $1.5 million a year after the team’s move.
County officials said last week that the end of spring training at the facility means the hotel and car rental taxes that have been supporting the debt will not be sufficient to cover the debt service. As a result, much of the debt must now be serviced from the county’s general fund.
The debt is to be retired in 2019.
County administrator Chuck Huckelberry said the county’s annual debt service for the baseball complex has been covered by its share of revenue from spring training ticket sales and the tourism taxes.
Pima County built the stadium and associated practice fields for $38 million for the Chicago White Sox and the Diamondbacks. The Chicago team moved to a new facility in Glendale in 2009.
The Colorado Rockies, who have been training in Tucson at a separate facility, will share the Glendale complex with the White Sox beginning in 2011.