Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Nashville's new convention center debt a "leap of faith"

From last week's Music City Center piece by Bloomberg, overlooked because the local media focused strictly on some anonymous Courthouse grumbling about CM Emily Evans' quotes in the piece:
With convention center attendance down nationwide -- a 30 percent decline in Las Vegas and 28 percent in Orlando, Florida, two of the largest convention markets in the U.S. -- Nashville’s taxpayers may wind up paying part of the cost if use of the new center falls short, said Heywood Sanders, professor of public administration at the University of Texas in San Antonio, who has studied convention centers.

“It’s quite a leap of faith,” said Sanders, who’s writing a book on convention center financing. “It’s a pretty large chunk of debt.”

The city is selling in four parts, with about $605 million as taxable Build America Bonds, which come with a 35 percent subsidy from the U.S. government under economic stimulus legislation passed last year by Congress.

The average yield on Build America securities fell 6 basis points to a three-week low of 6.17 percent yesterday, according to the Wells Fargo Build America Bond Index. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point.

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