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”Let’s clarify the BB&T proposal”

Mayor Barbara Sharief

Mayor Barbara Sharief

”Let’s clarify the BB&T proposal”
By Barbara Sharief

As of late there has been so much misinformation spread about the BB&T proposal. First, 20 years ago the Broward County Commission decided that they wanted an arena and professional sports team. They levied a two cents sales tax on tourists who stay in our hotels to pay the debt service on that arena. An agreement to guarantee that at least eight million dollars per year of the two cents tourist tax would go towards paying down that debt of over $450 million. This tourist tax has nothing to do with property taxes or Broward County residents. It’s purely raised from people from other places coming here staying in our hotels. In addition, the arena operators were to pay $4.6 million annually of the debt service as well as revenue share for any profits made over $12 million at a rate of 80 percent them, 20 percent Broward Coun-ty.
Broward County owns the BB&T Center therefore the remaining $250 million debt is ours not a private investors. The Broward Commission hired the arena operators to manage the daily operations of the building, obtain shows and the professional sports team the Panthers. The Arena Operators are saying that they have been losing $35 million per year. Their request is that if the county commission allocated an additional portion of that two cents towards their portion of the debt service it would allow them to be more profitable thereby having the ability to revenue share with the county sooner and at a higher rate of 30 percent us 70 percent them, once the $12 million threshold is met.
They asked us to bring the insurance for the arena under the County’s umbrella policy to save $1.7 million per year in insurance cost. We requested guidance so the commission agreed to have an outside consultant and auditor review the proposal to see what’s in our best interest to protect our asset. That will take 60 to 90 days and no decision has been made in terms of the proposal. Bottom line is whether we have the Panthers and arena operators there or not we will still have to pay for the building. In addition, the expectation is that without the sports team there it would devalue the building to $60 million and the BB&T Center could be empty for six months out of the year. Call me at (954) 357-7008 if you have questions.
Barbara Sharief is the District 8 Broward County Commissioner and Mayor of Broward County

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