Stadium project wins city support

Grand Junction City Council members decided Wednesday to move forward with plans to help procure funding to remodel Stocker Stadium.

The $8.3 million project would include adding an entertainment room above the bleachers, placing a state-of-the-art press box above that, putting backs on seats and sprucing up the dugouts and the concessions area. Junior College World Series Chairman Jamie Hamilton presented the concept to council members in May and returned Wednesday to see whether the council would authorize the Parks Improvement Advisory Board to issue bonded indebtedness to help pay for the project.

Council members agreed to hear a resolution, likely this fall, that would grant the board that authority. As a nonprofit organization, the advisory board does not have the ability to issue debt without permission from an entity with the power to tax citizens, such as the city.

Preliminary estimates show $6 million to $7 million worth of bonds would likely be issued. Another $1.3 million to $2.3 million might be raised through other sources, including the Junior College World Series, grants, foundations, private donors and lottery funds distributed to the city by the state. Lottery dollars, as a statewide rule, can be spent only on open space or parks, such as the stadium’s home, Lincoln Park.

Hamilton said at least $300,000 of the $450,000 to $532,000 required each year to pay off the bonds would be supplied by JUCO. The rest may come from   city lottery collections or the Parks Improvement Advisory Board, which is made up of five local dues-paying entities, but that decision has yet to be made.

The council will have to approve a resolution that pledges all or part of Lincoln Park as collateral in case the bonds cannot be paid, according to City Financial Operations Manager Jodi Romero. City Attorney John Shaver assured council members that a default, which theoretically would result in bond-holders owning Lincoln Park, would not occur.

What could happen, though, is the city could run into a roadblock if Amendment 61 passes in November. The amendment restricts bonding possibilities and will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot in Colorado. The amendment becomes an issue if the bonds haven’t been issued before the amendment passes, if it passes, Romero said.

Another reason to approve a resolution sooner than later is that if the project isn’t done by 2013, Grand Junction Baseball Inc. could miss out on a 25-year contract with the National Junior College Athletic Association to host the Junior College World Series, Councilman Bruce Hill said.

“That’s why we’re back with this fairly quickly,” Hill told the council.

Councilman Gregg Palmer said the project was a “fabulous opportunity” to remodel a city-owned facility without using city dollars alone.

“I don’t know how projects like this can get done in the city anymore without a partner,” he said.

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