A Question for Kent Friedman

Reliant StadiumHarris County Sports Authority Board Chairman J. Kent Friedman is not concerned that the Sports Authority has had to dip into its cash reserves for the first time in order to make a debt service payment on the junk debt it issued to finance construction of Reliant Stadium:

Friedman said paying off a 30-year mortgage in five years could produce a windfall.

"The savings on that is staggering" as the authority avoids years of interest payments, Friedman said. "The Sports Authority, and, by extension, the community, will be a lot better off if we can pay these bonds off early."

Which raises the question that, if such is the case, why did the Sports Authority finance the bonds over 30 years in the first place?

What’s most interesting about this situation is the change that it reflects in regard to public financing of stadiums. JP Morgan Chase has evaluated the situation and concluded that tax revenues dedicated to the bonds are so risky in the future that it is better off forcing the Sports Authority to dip into reserves and pay off the bonds in five years.

Could the fact that Harris County continues to dither over the mothballed Astrodome – which still is subject to over $30 million in bond indebtedness – have something to do with JP Morgan Chase’s decision?

Or is JP Morgan Chase simply hedging its risk regarding another bubble?

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