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If your clients ever inquire about investing in a sports team, ask them to name the most valuable major league franchise in the U.S. The answer according to Forbes’ 2013 ranking, is the New York Yankees, worth $2.3 billion. Then, tell them the story of a municipal bond issued to build parking garages at the new Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009. On opening day of the 2013 baseball season, this $237 million bond issue defaulted on a $6.9 million interest payment, after running through its reserve fund. The revenue bonds were issued by “Bronx Parking” and are not backed by taxpayers or the Yankees. Bond repayment has been jeopardized because so many fans now use public transit to avoid the $35 per-game parking fee.

Next up in the stadium bond turnstile may be Atlanta, where a new $1+ billion home for the Atlanta Falcons has just been approved, with partial financing expected from a proposed $200 million muni issue backed by city hotel-motel taxes. The new stadium, which will replace the 21-year-old Georgia Dome, is projected to cost up to five times as much to build and possibly be ready by 2017.

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