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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)
LEBANON - The Warren County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday took the last step leading to the county port authority issuing up to $16 million to cover the development and the costs of financing the Warren County Sports Park at Union Village.
"It's exciting to see the culmination of years of work on a project that leverages the county's number-one industry - tourism," Warren County Commissioner Dave Young said Wednesday.
On Sept. 19, the commissioners agreed to pledge the 3 percent lodgings tax, as well as 1 percent recently added, to fund the 109-acre sports complex, off Ohio 741 and Greentree Road in Turtlecreek Twp.
On Tuesday, the commissioners unanimously voted to support a cooperative agreement through which a trustee will manage payments on the bonds issued for the project, expected to mature on Dec. 1, 2042, and to pledge the lodgings tax to pay for the project.
The port authority will turn over operation of the sports complex to the Warren County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB). Two turf fields could be ready for next season, the remaining grass fields for the 2019 season, according to estimates.
The sports complex is one component of Union Village, a 1,400-acre multi-generational community, eventually with 12,000 residents and attracting $1.5 billion in private investment.
The development is owned by Otterbein Senior Lifestyle Choices and includes its main retirement campus off Ohio 741, south of Springboro and west of Lebanon. The land for the sports complex was transferred from Otterbein to the CVB, as part of negotiations leading to approval of the Union Village plan.
On Tuesday, Martin Russell, deputy county administrator and director of the county's port authority, indicated 20 agreements were included in the master agreement approved Monday by the port authority, a county financing agency created by commissioners, for the financing of the complex.
"We're ready to move forward," said Russell. "Thank you for your confidence."
Just under $15.7 million of the debt is to finance the project, with additional funds to cover the costs, including a $150,000 payment to the port authority for administrative fees at closing on Oct. 4.
The CVB is to pay the port authority about $26,000 a year for rent.
Also Wednesday Young emphasized that the sports complex land will not be owned by the county, or the debt the county's responsibility in the event of failure of the new facility.
No general-fund dollars were tied up in the project and the structure of the financing protected the county from any liability.
Phil Smith, director of the CVB, said national lacrosse, ultimate and soccer groups had committed to leasing the facility, once it opens.
"Ifthebottomdoesfallout, we'll liquidate the assets" to make good on debt, Smith said, as the plan took shape.
In another step to protect the county, the state law enabling the additional 1 percent in lodgings tax was amended to allow the port authority, rather than the county itself, to own the sports complex.
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