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Gwinnett County will save $14M by refinancing Coolray Field debt

Gwinnett’s Board of Commissioners made official this week its decision to refinance bonds used to build Coolray Field, a move estimated to save the county about $14 million.

The board passed a resolution Tuesday approving the terms of the refinancing. The new 3.27 percent interest rate will be half what it was when the county first took on the debt in 2008.

Officials expect to save a total of more than $600,000 a year, every year, until the final payment is made on Jan. 1, 2038.

“This does not increase the amount of outstanding debt for the stadium, and we are not borrowing more than we currently own on it,” Maria Woods, the county’s chief financial officer, said in a news release.

The Board of Commissioners voted in November to refinance the county’s debt. Tuesday’s action approved the actual terms of the refinancing. 

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Coolray Field, the Lawrenceville home to the Atlanta Braves’ Triple-A team, has been controversial almost from the day it was proposed.

The $64-million project was undertaken without public input. Officials vowed the stadium would eventually pay for itself through booming attendance and other revenue streams, and bragged that it would fuel large scale, multi-use development on the surrounding property. 

Neither of those promises have come true. The Gwinnett Braves draw small crowds and, while some upscale apartments have been built in recent years, the development dream has mostly been a bad one. 

Last month, commissioners approved a proposal that would bring a senior living community to the area.

In recent years, the county has had to divert hundreds of thousands of dollars in hotel-motel tax money to help cover payments on the stadium debt. Woods has previously said that refinancing would allow the county to end that practice.

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