LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Kent County making right investment in sports complex

When the Kent County Regional Sports Complex (DE Turf) opens in 2017 it will be a lighted, multi-turf/grass facility unlike any venue in the mid-Atlantic region.

This model will strategically position the complex to compete with other venues when it comes to bringing in tournaments for soccer, lacrosse, field hockey and other sporting events. When the complex is not being used for national, regional, state, and local tournaments, it will provide local teams with the opportunity to participate in clinics, camps and practices at a state-of-the-art facility.

Taxpayers, especially those in Kent County, want to know how the financing for the project is being handled and what the county has agreed to in regards to who will be responsible if it fails.

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Eric Buckson

State law prohibits the Levy Court from being the guarantor of the loan. In the event that the complex would fail, the bond holders, not the taxpayers, would be responsible for maintaining the complex even if it is closed.

Levy Court has agreed to a one-time only economic development grant of 1.4 million dollars. This grant shall be placed in escrow and only used if the complex goes bankrupt. If the complex does not go into bankruptcy but instead falls behind financially, the project is permitted to approach the Levy Court and request a loan that is required to be paid back. The Levy Court is under no requirement to agree to the loan.

Kent County currently ranks last in terms of obesity and overall health for its citizens young and old. Investing in our families is a way to combat this epidemic.

The county cannot survive by relying on retirees to move into the area while our youth move out. If we do not invest in this area and find ways to attract families and businesses we are going to fail. Every day startup businesses struggle to stay afloat in Kent County. A 1.4 million dollar investment on a 21 million dollar project that will bring significant tourism dollars into the local economy will matter to them.

Currently, M&T Bank is preparing the bonds for a public offering. If the bonds do not get a favorable rating or investors take a pass, there will not be money available to finance the complex and the project will not move forward. If the bonds sell, the project will become a reality. This means that over the next 35 years, the county (Levy Court) will lease the land, place in escrow 1.4 milloin dollars (one-time only) and vote yes/no in a public forum to loaning the complex money if they fall behind financially.

In return the county/state gets a 21 million dollar venue that will make Delaware a destination for travel sports and make a significant impact on the local economy.

Eric Buckson
Levy Court Commissioner, 4th District

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