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TEXT-Fitch affirms South Florida Stadium revs at 'BBB'
December 4, 2012 / 4:40 PM / 5 years ago

TEXT-Fitch affirms South Florida Stadium revs at 'BBB'

Dec 4 - Fitch Ratings affirms the underlying 'BBB' rating on the following
Miami-Dade County Industrial Development Authority's (IDA), Florida outstanding

--$155.6 million in taxable IDA revenue bonds (Dolphins Stadium Project);
--$76.3 million in series 1985 tax-exempt IDA revenue bonds.

The Rating Outlook on all bonds is Stable.


NFL'S FINANCIAL STRENGTH: The strength of the National Football League's (NFL)
financial model is underscored by long-term national television contracts;
robust revenue sharing; historically conservative operating profile and stable
attendance and viewership levels. Considerable stability is also provided by the
collaborative working relationship between the NFL and NFL players union as
represented by the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that runs
through 2021.

a stable fan and corporate base and have played in Miami since 1966. However,
recent on-field team performance has pressured game-day attendance and renewals
of club seats. As with any sports facility, the entertainment nature of sports
and its vulnerability to economic downturns and team performance are inherent
risks to this transaction. Miami-Dade County's solid wealth levels and
demographics are viewed favorably.

BROAD REVENUE PLEDGE: A high percentage of collateral is contractually obligated
and consists of luxury suite revenues; club seat revenues; stadium advertising
and sponsorships; concessions; annual stadium rent; parking and other revenues.
Revenues from suites, club seats, sponsorships and advertising agreements are
exposed to renewal risk and continued economic uncertainty. Combined with
lackluster team performance, price points and renewal terms may be pressured.

the credit to fluctuations in interest rates and refinancing risks. These risks
are partially mitigated by adequate financial flexibility with average debt
service coverage since 2007 above 2.0x. However, should pledged revenues not
rebound, debt service coverage ratios may be pressured in the near term, given
the escalating debt service profile.

INFRASTRUCTURE RENEWAL: South Florida Stadium, LLC (aka Sun Life Stadium) is a
state-of-the-art facility that was renovated in 2007. The current ownership
group continues to invest in the facility to improve the overall fan experience
and remain a competitive venue.


--Management's inability to grow net revenues in the medium term and continue
historical levels of financial flexibility including debt service coverage
ratios and declining leverage;
--A reduction in attendance and/or weak renewals that lead to reduced financial
--An increasing percentage of long-term contractually obligated income shifting
to shorter term renewals.


South Florida Stadium, LLC (aka Sun Life Stadium) is the obligor for all debt
service payments. Sun Life Stadium was formerly known as Land Shark Stadium and
prior to that Dolphin Stadium, Pro Player Stadium and Joe Robbie Stadium. The
net revenues of Dolphin Stadium and a $2 million state sales tax rebate (which
expires in 2022) secure the bonds.


Sun Life Stadium is home to the NFL's (senior unsecured rated 'A+' with a Stable
Outlook; Football Funding LLC and Football Trust rated 'A' with a Stable Outlook
by Fitch) Miami Dolphins and since 2008, the University of Miami Hurricane's
football team. Major League Baseball's (MLB, Trust Securitization rated 'A-')
Florida Marlins played their last game in Sun Life Stadium in 2011 and has
relocated to a new stadium near downtown Miami on the site of the former Orange
Bowl. Fitch's analysis incorporated the Marlins' relocation to a baseball-only
stadium in 2012.

Luxury suites and club seats in professional sports have faced pricing and
volume renewal pressure stemming from weakened U.S. economic conditions,
pressure on individual and corporate discretionary spending levels and in some
cases, lackluster on-field team performance. Sun Life Stadium is no exception,
experiencing increasingly shorter renewal terms and advertising and sponsorship
agreements have also faced some renewal pressure. The naming rights partner
agreement in 2010 with Sun Life did help.

While management has historically produced solid operating margins and
demonstrated financial flexibility, the current economic uncertainty and poor
on-field performance may constrain future performance. An additional medium-term
risk is Sun Life Stadium's escalating debt profile. Annual debt service
requirements associated with the outstanding bonds are expected to rise to
around $20 million in 2014 from $8.7 million in 2011. Continued positive revenue
growth and healthy management of expenses will be vital in retaining the
financial flexibility needed for the 2015 and 2017 refinancings of the notes and
for metrics commensurate with the current rating. Fitch continues to closely
monitor the ability of Sun Life Stadium's historically proactive management team
to renew luxury suites and club seats products on longer-term contracts compared
to recent short-term renewals at or above existing prices.

Series 2006 and 2007 bond proceeds were used by Sun Life Stadium to fund a
portion of certain costs associated with certain alterations and improvements.
The completed construction and renovations continued the stadium's modern and
innovative appeal with the addition of two new high-definition scoreboards; a
360-degree digital ribbon board; new concession areas including bars and
restaurants; suite renovations; additional retail spaces; fan interactive areas
and new corporate hospitality areas. Since its opening Sun Life Stadium has
completed a number of broad capital improvements and renovations to maintain the
stadium's facilities. Because of these broad capital projects Fitch does not
currently expect significant additional leverage to support capital
improvements; however, continued focus on rehabilitation and renovation projects
to maintain the fan experience will be particularly important to drive pricing.

In Fitch's base case scenario, occupancy and pricing levels associated with key
collateral perform consistent with historical levels as Sun Life Stadium has
exhibited solid pricing power and demand attributes. Under this scenario, Fitch
estimates debt service coverage ratios will remain above 2.0x in the next two
years and remain around 2.0x over the medium term as annual debt service costs
increase. In Fitch's Rating Case, pricing sensitivities were applied to renewals
of pledged revenues and increased operating costs at the stadium consistent with
other NFL stadium facilities in the medium term, essentially keeping Earning
Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) flat. As a result,
debt service coverage based on pledged revenues were maintained between
1.7-1.8x. Fitch notes that management has historically exceeded Fitch's base
case expectations for debt service coverage ratios. Fitch also performed a
combined downside sensitivity analysis that assumed declining EBITDA due to a
combination of economic pressures, higher vacancies and lower prices in suites
and club seat products and higher operating expenses. In this scenario debt
service coverage ratios could be pressured within 3 - 5 years as annual debt
service steps up. In the event that EBITDA declines due to the aforementioned
factors or other factors, financial metrics may be inconsistent with the current

Sun Life Stadium is a state-of-the-art, multipurpose sports and entertainment
facility in South Florida that commenced operations in 1987. The stadium was one
of the first stadium projects in the U.S. built to 'enhance the fan experience'
while adeptly understanding the modern day economics of professional sports. Sun
Life Stadium seats 75,540 for football games, and 40,000 for baseball games.
There are 179 executive suites, 9,800 club seats plus an additional 469 Club LIV
seats (built by the owners of LIV nightclub), and 25,000 parking spaces for

Sun Life Stadium hosted the NFL's Super Bowl in 1989, 1995, 1999 2007 and 2010
as well as the NFL's Pro Bowl in 2010. Additionally, the stadium contracts with
the National Collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA) Division I Men's Football
Orange Bowl Classic (a college football post-season game) through 2014 with a
four-year optional extension. Sun Life Stadium hosted and will host the NCAA
Division I Men's Football Bowl Championship Series (BCS) National Championship
Game in 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2013.

Additional information is available at ''. The ratings above
were solicited by, or on behalf of, the issuer, and therefore, Fitch has been
compensated for the provision of the ratings.

Applicable Criteria & Related Research:
--'Rating Criteria for Infrastructure and Project Finance' (July 11, 2012);
--'Rating Criteria for U.S. Sports Facilities, Leagues and Teams' (Aug. 9,

Applicable Criteria and Related Research:
Rating Criteria for Infrastructure and Project Finance
Rating Criteria for U.S. Sports Facilities, Leagues, and Teams

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