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The Florida Statutes

The 2017 Florida Statutes

Title XIX
PUBLIC BUSINESS
Chapter 288
COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT AND CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS
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F.S. 288.11621
288.11621 Spring training baseball franchises.
(1) DEFINITIONS.As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Agreement” means a certified, signed lease between an applicant that applies for certification on or after July 1, 2010, and the spring training franchise for the use of a facility.
(b) “Applicant” means a unit of local government as defined in s. 218.369, including local governments located in the same county that have partnered with a certified applicant before the effective date of this section or with an applicant for a new certification, for purposes of sharing in the responsibilities of a facility.
(c) “Certified applicant” means a facility for a spring training franchise that was certified before July 1, 2010, under s. 288.1162(5), Florida Statutes 2009, or a unit of local government that is certified under this section.
(d) “Facility” means a spring training stadium, playing fields, and appurtenances intended to support spring training activities.
(e) “Local funds” and “local matching funds” mean funds provided by a county, municipality, or other local government.
(2) CERTIFICATION PROCESS.
(a) Before certifying an applicant to receive state funding for a facility for a spring training franchise, the department must verify that:
1. The applicant is responsible for the acquisition, construction, management, or operation of the facility for a spring training franchise or holds title to the property on which the facility for a spring training franchise is located.
2. The applicant has a certified copy of a signed agreement with a spring training franchise for the use of the facility for a term of at least 20 years. The agreement also must require the franchise to reimburse the state for state funds expended by an applicant under this section if the franchise relocates before the agreement expires. The agreement may be contingent on an award of funds under this section and other conditions precedent.
3. The applicant has made a financial commitment to provide 50 percent or more of the funds required by an agreement for the acquisition, construction, or renovation of the facility for a spring training franchise. The commitment may be contingent upon an award of funds under this section and other conditions precedent.
4. The applicant demonstrates that the facility for a spring training franchise will attract a paid attendance of at least 50,000 annually to the spring training games.
5. The facility for a spring training franchise is located in a county that levies a tourist development tax under s. 125.0104.
(b) The department shall competitively evaluate applications for state funding of a facility for a spring training franchise. The total number of certifications may not exceed 10 at any time. The evaluation criteria must include, with priority given in descending order to, the following items:
1. The anticipated effect on the economy of the local community where the spring training facility is to be built, including projections on paid attendance, local and state tax collections generated by spring training games, and direct and indirect job creation resulting from the spring training activities. Priority shall be given to applicants who can demonstrate the largest projected economic impact.
2. The amount of the local matching funds committed to a facility relative to the amount of state funding sought, with priority given to applicants that commit the largest amount of local matching funds relative to the amount of state funding sought.
3. The potential for the facility to serve multiple uses.
4. The intended use of the funds by the applicant, with priority given to the funds being used to acquire a facility, construct a new facility, or renovate an existing facility.
5. The length of time that a spring training franchise has been under an agreement to conduct spring training activities within an applicant’s geographic location or jurisdiction, with priority given to applicants having agreements with the same franchise for the longest period of time.
6. The length of time that an applicant’s facility has been used by one or more spring training franchises, with priority given to applicants whose facilities have been in continuous use as facilities for spring training the longest.
7. The term remaining on a lease between an applicant and a spring training franchise for a facility, with priority given to applicants having the shortest lease terms remaining.
8. The length of time that a spring training franchise agrees to use an applicant’s facility if an application is granted under this section, with priority given to applicants having agreements for the longest future use.
9. The net increase of total active recreation space owned by the applicant after an acquisition of land for the facility, with priority given to applicants having the largest percentage increase of total active recreation space that will be available for public use.
10. The location of the facility in a brownfield, an enterprise zone, a community redevelopment area, or other area of targeted development or revitalization included in an urban infill redevelopment plan, with priority given to applicants having facilities located in these areas.
(c) Each applicant certified on or after July 1, 2010, shall enter into an agreement with the department that:
1. Specifies the amount of the state incentive funding to be distributed.
2. States the criteria that the certified applicant must meet in order to remain certified.
3. States that the certified applicant is subject to decertification if the certified applicant fails to comply with this section or the agreement.
4. States that the department may recover state incentive funds if the certified applicant is decertified.
5. Specifies information that the certified applicant must report to the department.
6. Includes any provision deemed prudent by the department.
(3) USE OF FUNDS.
(a) A certified applicant may use funds provided under s. 212.20(6)(d)6.b. only to:
1. Serve the public purpose of acquiring, constructing, reconstructing, or renovating a facility for a spring training franchise.
2. Pay or pledge for the payment of debt service on, or to fund debt service reserve funds, arbitrage rebate obligations, or other amounts payable with respect thereto, bonds issued for the acquisition, construction, reconstruction, or renovation of such facility, or for the reimbursement of such costs or the refinancing of bonds issued for such purposes.
3. Assist in the relocation of a spring training franchise from one unit of local government to another only if the governing board of the current host local government by a majority vote agrees to relocation.
(b) State funds awarded to a certified applicant for a facility for a spring training franchise may not be used to subsidize facilities that are privately owned, maintained, and used only by a spring training franchise.
(c) The Department of Revenue may not distribute funds to an applicant certified on or after July 1, 2010, until it receives notice from the department that the certified applicant has encumbered funds under subparagraph (a)2.
(d)1. All certified applicants must place unexpended state funds received pursuant to s. 212.20(6)(d)6.b. in a trust fund or separate account for use only as authorized in this section.
2. A certified applicant may request that the Department of Revenue suspend further distributions of state funds made available under s. 212.20(6)(d)6.b. for 12 months after expiration of an existing agreement with a spring training franchise to provide the certified applicant with an opportunity to enter into a new agreement with a spring training franchise, at which time the distributions shall resume.
3. The expenditure of state funds distributed to an applicant certified before July 1, 2010, must begin within 48 months after the initial receipt of the state funds. In addition, the construction of, or capital improvements to, a spring training facility must be completed within 24 months after the project’s commencement.
(4) ANNUAL REPORTS.On or before September 1 of each year, a certified applicant shall submit to the department a report that includes, but is not limited to:
(a) A copy of its most recent annual audit.
(b) A detailed report on all local and state funds expended to date on the project being financed under this section.
(c) A copy of the contract between the certified local governmental entity and the spring training team.
(d) A cost-benefit analysis of the team’s impact on the community.
(e) Evidence that the certified applicant continues to meet the criteria in effect when the applicant was certified.
(5) DECERTIFICATION.
(a) The department shall decertify a certified applicant upon the request of the certified applicant.
(b) The department shall decertify a certified applicant if the certified applicant does not:
1. Have a valid agreement with a spring training franchise; or
2. Satisfy its commitment to provide local matching funds to the facility.

However, decertification proceedings against a local government certified before July 1, 2010, shall be delayed until 12 months after the expiration of the local government’s existing agreement with a spring training franchise, and without a new agreement being signed, if the certified local government can demonstrate to the department that it is in active negotiations with a major league spring training franchise, other than the franchise that was the basis for the original certification.

(c) A certified applicant has 60 days after it receives a notice of intent to decertify from the department to petition for review of the decertification. Within 45 days after receipt of the request for review, the department must notify a certified applicant of the outcome of the review.
(d) The department shall notify the Department of Revenue that a certified applicant is decertified within 10 days after the order of decertification becomes final. The Department of Revenue shall immediately stop the payment of any funds under this section that were not encumbered by the certified applicant under subparagraph (3)(a)2.
(e) The department shall order a decertified applicant to repay all of the unencumbered state funds that the local government received under this section and any interest that accrued on those funds. The repayment must be made within 60 days after the decertification order becomes final. These funds shall be deposited into the General Revenue Fund.
(f) A local government as defined in s. 218.369 may not be decertified by the department if it has paid or pledged for the payment of debt service on, or to fund debt service reserve funds, arbitrage rebate obligations, or other amounts payable with respect thereto, bonds issued for the acquisition, construction, reconstruction, or renovation of the facility for which the local government was certified, or for the reimbursement of such costs or the refinancing of bonds issued for the acquisition, construction, reconstruction, or renovation of the facility for which the local government was certified, or for the reimbursement of such costs or the refinancing of bonds issued for such purpose. This subsection does not preclude or restrict the ability of a certified local government to refinance, refund, or defease such bonds.
(6) ADDITIONAL CERTIFICATIONS.If the department decertifies a unit of local government, the department may accept applications for an additional certification. A unit of local government may not be certified for more than one spring training franchise at any time.
(7) STRATEGIC PLANNING.The department shall request assistance from Enterprise Florida, Inc., and the Florida Grapefruit League Association to develop a comprehensive strategic plan to:
(a) Finance spring training facilities.
(b) Monitor and oversee the use of state funds awarded to applicants.
(c) Identify the financial impact that spring training has on the state and ways in which to maintain or improve that impact.
(d) Identify opportunities to develop public-private partnerships to engage in marketing activities and advertise spring training baseball.
(e) Identify efforts made by other states to maintain or develop partnerships with baseball spring training teams.
(f) Develop recommendations for the Legislature to sustain or improve this state’s spring training tradition.
(8) RULEMAKING.The department shall adopt rules to implement the certification, decertification, and decertification review processes required by this section.
(9) AUDITS.The Auditor General may conduct audits as provided in s. 11.45 to verify that the distributions under this section are expended as required in this section. If the Auditor General determines that the distributions under this section are not expended as required by this section, the Auditor General shall notify the Department of Revenue, which may pursue recovery of the funds under the laws and rules governing the assessment of taxes.
History.s. 5, ch. 2010-140; s. 36, ch. 2010-147; s. 159, ch. 2011-142; s. 41, ch. 2012-96; s. 44, ch. 2014-17.