DENVER -- An $88 million refinancing of Denver Metorpolitan Major League Baseball Stadium District bonds scheduled for mid-January is expected to save $18 million toward the building of Coors Field, district officials said.

Coors Field is under construction in the lower downtown area of Denver and is to be the home of the National League's Colorado Rockies baseball team in 1995.

Total cost of the project is $196 million, for which $105 million of sales tax revenue bonds have been issued. The average interest rate on the bonds was 6% when they were sold in 1991.

The rest of the cost will come from team owners and other sources.

In addition, the five-county metropolitan area surrounding Denver that levies a one-tenth of 1% sales tax for the ballpark willsave approximately $5 million a year in interest costs over five years, bond documents show. Higher than expected sales tax revenues willallow the bonds to be paid off in 2006 instead of 2011. The tax will expire after the debt is repaid.

The bonds are backed by Financial Guaranty Insurance Co. and are rated triple-A by Standard & Poor's Corp., Moodey's Investors Service, and Fitch Investors Service Inc.

George K. Baum & Co. vice president Lee White said the district has not decided whether to retain FGIC as the insurer and is looking over bids for insurance. An insurer will be chosen within a week, White said.

Baum will be the senior underwriter on the refinancing, as it was on the original issue. Piper Jaffray Inc. is the co-manager and other underwriters are Weldon, Sullivan Hudson & Co. and First Colorado Financial Services Co.

When the ball field came up for a sales tax vote in 1990, it was turned down in Denver but passed in the more populous suburban counties.

"We've always told the public the debt would be paid off early," White said. "When the stadium is paid for, the tax will terminate."

The sales tax will bring in about $19 million this year in contrast to projections in the official statement that estimated $15 million in 1993.

The extra revenue will be deposited into a sinking fund that will be used to retire debt in 2001. Bonds maturing after that are noncallable, but may be advance-refunded, White said. None of the revenues from ticket sales will beused to pay off bonds.

This year, the Colorado Rockies set a major league baseball attendance record in the team's temporary home, Mile High Stadium. Team owners decided to pay to expand the field's seating by more than 6,000 seats to more than 50,000 at a cost of $16 million.

To date, district authorities say construction of Coors Field is on time and within its budget, Adolph Coors Co. put up $25 million for part of the construction costs.

The district's six-person staff will have jobs until just rather Coors Field opens. The district board will oversee the stadium until being disbanded in August 1997.

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