Bond sales helping Hall of Fame Resort finance village's ongoing development

CANTON – The Stark County Port Authority is moving forward with plans to issue bonds to help finance the ongoing development of Hall of Fame Village powered by Johnson Controls.

In a special meeting last week, the port authority approved issuing special obligation revenue bonds to generate $7.5 million for the center of performance. It also approved a preliminary agreement on tax increment financing bonds worth $19.5 million that will help cover infrastructure costs for the project.

The bonds are separate from a $5 million loan — approved by the port authority in August — for the Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Co. from a new Stark County revolving loan fund.

More:Stark Port Authority approves $5 million loan for Hall of Fame Village

Hall of Fame Resort is using the various forms of financing to build the Hall of Fame Village campus around the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The special obligation revenue bonds will be paid with taxes collected through the tourism development district at Hall of Fame Village. The district allows for extra taxes on parking, admissions and sales built into the cost of events on the village campus.

The city collects the additional taxes and the port authority uses the funds to pay on bonds. The state, using revenue from the Ohio Enterprise Bond Fund, has purchased the port authority bonds. The arrangement has the port authority serving as a conduit, with taxes collected at Hall of Fame Village by the city, going to the port authority and then to the state.

The $19.5 million in tax increment financing bonds will be used in several ways. The port authority expects to complete the process before the year ends.

More:Tourism helps create economic development, HOF Village exec tells Akron Roundtable

The bonds cover the cost to build infrastructure supporting the village. That includes rebuilding Blake Avenue NW from Fulton Road to 17th Street NW, as well as the side streets that intersect with Blake. Plans are for Hall of Fame Village to own and maintain the roads.

There also are plans to use about $9.3 million to refinance bonds issued in 2018 through the Summit County Port Authority. At that time, tax increment financing was used for work at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium and the youth athletic fields south of McKinley High School.

The tax increment financing will still cover the stadium and youth athletic fields, as well as the Constellation Center for Excellence, the center for performance, and the two retail buildings that should be completed this year.

The properties will be included in a 30-year tax increment financing deal approved in 2015 with the Canton City and the Plain Local school districts for the Village development. The deal gives developers a tax break on the increased property taxes they would pay as properties are improved or built. Instead of paying higher taxes, the Village makes an equal payment to a service fund, with 75% of that payment covering public infrastructure and 25% distributed to the school districts.

There had been discussions about including a 180-room hotel and water park in the bond request, but both were left out of the current bond agreement. Including the projects would have pushed the bonds to $28 million.

Port authority board members questioned how the bonds will be paid and whether the agency could face liability. Lawyers with the firm working on the bond project — Squires, Patton, Boggs — said measures are being taken to ensure payment on the bonds in the event Hall of Fame Village defaults.

Reach Edd at 330-580-8484 or On Twitter: @epritchardREP

This article originally appeared on The Repository: Stark Port Authority helps Hall of Fame Resort with bond financing