Stadium cost: Bond money paid early

LAWRENCEVILLE - The first payment on bonds sold to build Gwinnett's minor-league stadium is due in January, but officials said the money is already in.

Gwinnett Budget Director Chad Teague said officials thought the money would be due by the end of the year, but instead, the $1,587,067 will be paid in January. The money will be carried over from 2008 to 2009's budget, he said.

While the county has not sold the stadium's naming rights, which was one piece of the revenues to pay back $33 million in bonds sold for the project, Teague said the other revenue streams could cover the 2009 costs, which include another payment of $1,058,054 later in the year.

Officials have budgeted $300,000 in revenues through the sale of naming rights, which are part of a financing package that also includes a $1 per ticket surcharge, parking fees and a car rental tax.

The car rental tax is the only revenue that began collecting in 2008, and Teague said the money has been coming in faster than officials expected.

Through November, the county collected $513,057.43, nearly 50 percent higher than the $350,000 officials had forecasted for the time period.

"We should be fine," assuming the parking revenues and ticket surcharges meet expectations, Teague said of the inability to sell the naming rights. "We're ahead of the game on the car rental (tax). Right now, we're in pretty good shape."

During a tour of the stadium's construction earlier this month, Braves officials said ticket sales have been going well, despite a downturn in the economy.