County to see $4M from field deal

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Gwinnett County will receive $4,485,836 over the next 15 years from a deal naming the Gwinnett Braves' stadium Coolray Field, according to information recently released by government officials.

But the county's cut of the naming rights revenues will not eclipse the $300,000 in revenues each year that officials had hoped for to pay back bonds sold to build the stadium until 2019.

According to details released by Gwinnett Chief Financial Officer Aaron Bovos, the government will receive no money for the naming rights in 2010. Between 2011 and 2014, the county will get $181,250 each year, with the revenues rising incrementally each year until 2025.

The county had hoped to receive $300,000, in addition to revenues such as a car rental tax, parking fees and a ticket surcharge to pay the $33 million in bonds sold for construction in 2008. The county owes $2.1 to $2.7 million each year to pay back the debt.

In 2009, stadium revenues totaled nearly $2 million, including $865,401 in car rental taxes, $402,992 in ticket surcharges, $28,671 in parking fees and a total of $650,000 in annual contributions from the Braves and the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Bovos said any shortfall will be made up through fund balance of the Stadium Operating Fund, which was established with revenues before the bonds became due, and reserves set aside for the bonds.

Last year, Gwinnett officials missed a deadline which would have given the county the first $350,000 each year in a naming rights deal. Instead, the Braves will receive the first $350,000 of revenues from Coolray Heating and Cooling.

In the agreement, the county receives the next $350,000, with anything above that amount split between the two.

From the county revenues, the naming rights contract appears to be worth up to $10.4 million over 16 years, although details have not been officially released.