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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington City Council has unanimously approved a plan to negotiate with Mandalay Baseball Properties and the Atlanta Braves about bringing a minor league baseball team to the Port City.

During an hour-long pitch to council, the groups claimed Wilmington is part of “Atlanta Braves Country,” which makes Wilmington a natural fit. The presentation included Braves General Manager Frank Wren and former Braves Manager Bobby Cox, as well as a video on the Braves that featured a list of minor league affiliates including the “Wilmington Braves.”

Rich Newmann, president of baseball development for Mandalay Properties says they have been interested in the Wilmington market for a decade. In the past year alone, he’s been to the Port City 27 times.

“I’ve met with every city council member, every county commissioner multiple times, information sharing and information gathering,” said Newmann.

If approved by City Council, the Atlanta Braves and Mandalay Baseball partnership would enter into a 20-year guaranteed lease with the City of Wilmington.

However, the big talk and big names did not persuade everyone.

“Why is it fair that because a handful of people love baseball that they could tax all of us? It doesn’t seem right,” said Mary Mason, who spoke in front of City Council.

Wilmington Sharks owner Darrell Handelsman says if the Braves came to Wilmington, they would kill business for the Sharks.

“As a small business person you feel like this big corporation is coming in and taking what we’ve built up for 16 years and now we’re going to get the city all of a sudden to support them, the government and it’s disappointing,” he said.

The city now has a six-month period to negotiate with Mandalay and the Braves on a public/private partnership to plan for, finance, develop and construct a ballpark in the city. The Braves want to bring their high-level Class A team in the Carolina League to town. That team is currently the Lynchburg (VA) Hillcats.

The question now is how the city will pay for it. Mayor Bill Saffo says constructing the estimated $40 million stadium could mean a property tax hike. Councilwoman Laura Padgett and Councilman Earl Sheridan said they support exploring the possibility, but they are not sure Wilmington taxpayers should have to pay for the stadium on their own.

Comment on this Story

  • Justin LaNasa

    LOOK People if you Live here in Wilmington and voted in the last election 2011 for me ( or against the Status Quo )please read and sign this petition !!!!!

    No Tax Dollars for Baseball Stadium!

  • taxpayer

    “Councilwoman Laura Padgett and Councilman Earl Sheridan said they support exploring the possibility, but they are not sure Wilmington taxpayers should have to pay for the stadium on their own.”

    We taxpayers will remember you and any other council-critter who votes to use our tax dollars to build the shrine to your over-inflated egos. Keep this in mind when you decide to run for re-election.

  • Guest357sig

    If memory serves, Mayor Saffo has been re-elected twice since the unpopular, empty convention center broke ground. Wilmington constantly votes for “greenspace” bonds. Sorry Taxpayer, this newest 80 million, empty stadium will be built, and nothing you can do or say will stop it.

  • Guest2020

    It’s way past time to vote these people out of office. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The people of Wilmington have re-elected these people repeatedly. I hate to see this done to Wilmington, but the voters are getting what they asked for.

  • Das Weibstück

    Is this Obamas fault too?

  • Peyton Garrett

    Idle threats of not re-electing someone are way to premature. Why don’t You wait and see what the deal is before taking issue with something before it is even explored. You would probably be all for it if it was your land this proposal was targeting. I still think it would benefit North Wilmington and It’s cleanup and development. There may be other sites. Who knows? Besides, I saw a lot of heads at that meeting who were in favor. It needs to play out.

  • I love it!!! Let the new stadium go up! I will drive 5 min. to Wilmington to see the games! Kind of sux that some people may have their taxes go up though….oh well. If you can’t handle it–sell and rent!!

  • Guest2020

    Maybe that’s what you people in Leland should have done instead of whining about a corrupt Police Chief and police department. Last I saw there were quite a few people from Wilmington on here supporting the people of Leland through all that’s been going on there. Maybe you should move to Wilmington and volunteer to pay for it.

  • taxpayer

    I’m betting you voted for Obummer as well. You live in Leland…I don’t. I am tired of the City and County raising my property taxes to pay for their every whim as well as incompetence.

    Maybe you can get a bunch of your friends to convince the Braves and Madalay Bay folks to build on your side of the river.

  • Guest390

    Typical attitude of someone who will not share in the taxes that probably lives in a subsidized singlewide.

  • ChefnSurf

    Looks like all the problems in your home town have embarrassed you to the point where you’re lashing out at others. My condolences.

  • Guest Lee

    Easy for you to say, trailer trash. Can’t afford it on THIS side of the bridge, so you ride on Wilmington’s tailcoats for your entertainment?

    I shudder to think what you’re teaching your kids, LelandMom. You obviously don’t have the good sense God gave a goose, or you wouldn’t be advertising your guest name. People will think you have a pink flamingo in your front yard.

  • JP

    Remember – The reason why the city has trouble balancing its budget is because of those dang freeloading county residents who drive through Wilmington, and certainly not from projects like this ballpark that the city must have.

  • X

    Please, you cant be serious….

  • Guest Lee

    Remember, without the financial support of those “dang freeloading county residents who drive through Wilmington” spending their money inside the City limits, Wilmington would go bankrupt. County residents don’t just buy from the county; they buy inside the Wilmington city limits, too.

    It’s so simple to be wise. Just think of something stupid to say, and then don’t say it.

  • The city employees may not have received a raise in four years, but they each took home an extra $1000 in December. They get so much time off (holiday, vacation and sick days) that twice as many employees are required to cover these benefits. If our taxes are paying for the additional employees why not let them pay for a stadium that will generate revenue for everyone? I say build it and let’s play ball!!

  • Guest3094

    Im sure they will raise the taxes for this stadium cause they want it, these are the same people who havent given city employees a raise in almost four years and flat out refuse to raise taxes for it. I guess the stadium is more important.

  • Challengetheworld

    Lee, again, I’m happy for you that you don’t enjoy sports. That is your right, and I respect it. However, there is no baseball stadium at Legion Stadium. There is a small ball field behind Legion Stadium that the Sharks use and its about the same size as a medium high school baseball complex. It is not anything that will attract a Minor league team. The waterfront ball park would be attractive to many teams, would be good for local downtown business, create industry in itself and would also provide jobs. Having that said, it needs to be done by a private company. Taxes should not be affected because then this will be like the convention center = unprofitable.

    The City of Wilmington should have nothing to do with the management, ownership or running the Stadium. If they do, it will never work.

  • Guest Lee

    My misunderstanding arises from the use of the words “stadium” vs “ballpark”. Not being someone who is into sports, I was unfamiliar with the terminology and believed them to be one and the same. I now realize the difference. Thanks for the education.

  • Well Guest Lee–You really made me laugh! I am a college graduate with a double major in accounting and finance. I live in a paid for beautiful brick home with a very huge inground pool in my backyard. Prior to buying my home, I lived in Wilmingtong (paying rent) for about 12 years. I did my homework on the taxes and so forth so I was definitely able to get more for my money. I have staight A honor roll children that are very respectful so don’t concern yourself there! As far as advertising my name–I am very happy to let anyone know I live in Leland! Sounds to me like you may be the “TRASH” here. Don’t let your trailer door hit you in the A** on your way in and out! Again–thanks for making me smile this morning!

  • Definitly not a lost soul!!!

  • Challengetheworld

    Guest Lee, its clear which side of the political spectrum you fall on from your own username. However, please do not shed judgement of all citizens in Brunswick County because of one lost soul. Brunswick County residents do a whole lot for the New Hanover County economy. Many live outside the city limits and outside NHCO because of the mismanagement of government. I’m not saying its much better over on this side, but at least we do not have Berger and we all do not live in trailers. There are some multi-million dollar homes in Brunsco, come have a look sometime. Its not as bad as everyone says it is.

  • Guest Lee

    Uhhh….my real name actually IS Lee….I don’t like politics particularly and have taken no “side”. I just call ’em as I see ’em.

    But I appreciate your thoughtful, polite post, and your correct discernment of the poor “lost soul”. You made one very good point..no Berger. That alone is worth reconsideration of the citizens of Brunswick County.

  • Guest2020

    No one cares what you own or how smart your kids are. My older daughter takes AP Classes at the high school. She will have a minor in Spanish before she even reaches college. My younger daughter just got inducted into the honor society and guess what, I am against using taxpayer money to build a stadium. You just sound like someone who is completely selfish and doesn’t care what burdens are placed on other people just as long as you get to benefit from it.

  • Bill


  • If you are so tired of it–get out of it! I am very happy in Leland and it would be fine with me if it was built in Leland instead of Wilmington. Either way–can’t wait to go to the games!!!

  • SurfCityTom

    attended a Sharks game, do yourself a favor and attend one when the season begins. Great baseball with a lot of college players who play to hone their skills and who play for the love of the game. Great value for the buck. Puts Legion Stadium to use.

    This is real baseball entertainment; and it’s done without smacking the taxpayers or property owners.

    This study should include an assessment of just what revenue the Sharks generate for the city coffers and at what cost to the taxpayers.

    Now let the SurfCityTom attackers begin with simple witted comments of no relevance to the topic.

  • Guest Lee

    No attack, SCT, just a statement on my part. I’m really not a big fan of sports, except the Olypics, but if this deal goes through, my taxes will probably go up and I’ll be paying money so other folks can go watch some stupid baseball game.

    That being said, I agree with you that those who love baseball should utilize Legium Stadium, and unless attendance at that location goes up, a new baseball stadium shouldn’t even be considered.

  • Guest89

    Paranoia is a sign of Dementia. (I believe my comment proved you right)

  • Guest2020

    And those idiots wonder why people fight so hard against annexation.

  • Guest99x

    I like paying taxes.

  • guesty

    So much for letting the public vote on it. The really sad part is how angry everybody is yet come next election time these same bozos will be re-elected. I said it many times last election and it still holds true, don’t re-elect ANYBODY.

  • Straight Shooter

    You nay sayers are at it again, condemning a possible good project for our area before you know all the facts. The truth is the city now has 6 months to look at the pros, the cons and the financials of this project. So why don’t you nay sayers just shut-up until more is known!

  • Justin LaNasa

    I feel the state should keep tabs(ie;watch their bank accounts and spending habits) on all who work for the elections dept. especially the supervisors this is the only way you will ever be able to have accurate elections.

  • Guest moving forward in 2012

    Great news! Will put us on the map! Pray it comes to fruition. No brainer–win, win situation. Great for economy and tourism, will bring motivation and activities for our youth, more utilization of our convention center, and the list goes on. But wait, news flash!!! A lot of folks around here will always find fault and riticism , and their cups will always be half empty because they are stuck in a rut and for the life of me I do not understand why, but they love it and languish in it–MY WAY is ALWAYS the RIGHT WAY–the old way or no way-if you can’t be a part of the solution, don’t be a hindrance–let’s work out the details and move forward!

  • Guest Lee

    Your narcissism is most irritating…it reminds me too much of Berger. Wait! Is that you, Berger? It does kind of sound like something idiotic that he would post.

    narcissism (n) – Bing Dictionary
    1.self-admiration: excessive self-admiration and self-centeredness
    2.personality disorder: in psychiatry, a personality disorder characterized by the patient’s overestimation of his or her own appearance and abilities and an excessive need for admiration.
    Synonyms: vanity, self-love, self-admiration, self-absorption, egotism, conceit, self-importance, selfishness, self-centeredness

    About the ball park, it’s not a “win, win situation”. Traffic is bad enough around here. I can’t begin to imagine the complications this is going to cause.

    You’re probably a teenager still living home with mom and dad paying all the bills, so you have no concept of how this new park will increase taxes….or you rent and still pay no taxes. Either way, you’re still unable to comprehend the vastness of headaches this ballpark would bring. Finish your breakfast and then take your nap, Junior.

  • Guest moving forward in 2012

    Could it be because it makes us feel superior? Not this time dearie. Educated then gainfully employed entire adult life; homeowner, tax payer, world traveler, yada, yada, yada. To abase myself by wasting time and thought to even respond to you in this instance, makes me about as ignorant and unenlightened as you are!!! See-no one is perfect. God bless and have a great day

  • SurfCityTom


    There are those, of whom you are one, who would find some negative comment to make no matter what the topic.

    Too bad you don’t have more to do with your time until the next entitlement check of EBT card flows forth.

  • Guest89

    You sure told me.

  • Guest Lee

    Spoken like someone who probably pays no property taxes, and someone who is clueless as to how government works. If you wait until it “plays out”, you’re already too late. With government, you need to start nay-saying early, or it WILL play itself out, and you’re stuck paying extra property taxes. And if it was my land they were targeting, I would scream a loud NOOOOO!!!!!

    Wilmington can’t afford heavier traffic, and taxpayers are burdened enough. Why don’t we give Leland the “honor”, since they have a lot more unused space than Wilmington does. Then they wouldn’t have to cross the bridge, adding to further traffic woes in Wilmington.

    We don’t NEED this baseball park. There are other more pressing issues to solve in Wilmington, one of the most pressing being an old, worn out water and sewer system. Let’s get headed in the RIGHT direction.

  • Challengetheworld

    Whether it is in Leland or DT Wilmington, you will have the same traffic issues. A real minor league team in the area will attract people, those people will still have to go into Brunswick County from Wilmington and creating the same traffic problem as if it was DT. It can be handled if a private industry invests in paying off-duty contract rates to the NHCOSD and WPD or HP. Its exactly the same that NC State does, Chapel Hill, Nascar etc. If we are going to grow the greater Wilmington area we need to be attractive to all kinds. Most metropolitian areas have major sports, we do not.

  • Peyton Garrett

    You just made another example of how jumping the gun on something makes people look like a stupid a**. Enlighten Me. Where will the proposed park be? How much will it cost? What will the City’s financial participation be? How will the City’s contribution be funded? As far as highways and traffic, There is a major city-county artery right next to the downtown site. No more traffic than is dumped onto College Rd after a UNCW Basketball game. May last ten minutes. As far as an antiquated City Water and Sewer System, that is an entirely different matter. Only a major bond issue is going to remedy that and more likely than not should have been addressed decades ago. You have the crystal ball Smarta**. And Yes I pay taxes, in three counties. Now enlighten Me some more. There are no facts to dispute….Yet.

  • Challengetheworld

    Guest Lee:

    Thanks for your pasting from the dictionary, I’m sure most of us didn’t know that this was FREE on the internet. I’m also sure no one asked for your lesson on the English Language.

    How from this post are you able to draw all those assumptions? Maybe you should clearly research assume in the dictionary and see what conclusions you are able to draw. I’d be fine with the ballpark being on the Brunswick side of the river but New Hanover County wanted to ensure they kept the revenue of the Battleship so we can’t exactly put it in the same area.

    Non-Tax funded, private enterprise Baseball is good. Traffic, well, it sucks anyway but I don’t believe we’re talking any worse than a Hammerheads game or a UNCW basketball game. Just like Nascar races do elsewhere in the state, we can have the business owning the ball park hire the NHCSD, WPD, or Highway Patrol to handle traffic congestion before and after the games.

    Private Baseball Business = Local Jobs.
    Tax Payer Baseball Business = Bad for EVERYONE (unless you are the City of Green Bay, Wisconsin…but we are far from that)

  • Guest Lee

    Thank you for the General Lee comment. He was an amazing general and an amazing man. Best compliment I’ve had all day.

    I’m sure most of the regular posters on this forum know that the pasting from the dictionary was free from the internet, since I’ve seen it done many times before by other posters. Guess you missed those posts, huh?

    I gave no “lesson” on the English language, only a definition of “narcissism”, so your very first sentence right off the bat (excuse the pun) tells me that you don’t know even what you’re talking about.

    The assumptions you claim I’m drawing are not assumptions, they are hard, cold facts. The traffic WILL increase if a baseball park is built (no matter who pays for it), and taxpayers WILL pay for it if it’s voted on by city council. Do you think they’re going to pay for it out of their own pockets? I’ve lived here long enough (over 60 years) to know a little about this city and the way things work around here.

    I didn’t say anything about putting the baseball park near the battleship. You have lots of land across the river, with many places to put a stadium. You talk about how the traffic sucks anyway, so just hire cops to control it…again, with our tax money. There is a limit as to how much traffic congestion Wilmington can hold, but I doubt you care about that because you live across the river.

    People like you make me laugh. No individual raindrop ever considers itself responsible for the flood.

    “Challengetheworld?” More like “MentallyChallenged”.

  • Guest Baseball

    And your probably a retiree living life off of our social security. So if its OK for us to pay 4.2% to your well being and not going to see a dime of that when we retire. Let us have our ball park and team so when we are 75 yrs old and getting off of work we can enjoy a nice day at the ball park.

  • Challengetheworld

    If you have been here for 60 years, then you are probably just like the rest of the old timers who wish things would just be left alone. Enjoy retirement. I’ve lived elsewhere most of my life, so I have the perspective of a growing city. You on the other hand are upset when you are stuck in traffic on the way to Wallgreens.

    I care about traffic congestion but I also care about the economy. I think anything that can add jobs and private industry is a positive. Also, you didn’t understand my comment about using local law enforcement. WPD, NHCOSD and SHP have what are called contract rates FOR OFF DUTY OFFICERS, non tax payer funded. The officers are paid very poorly when working “on the clock” so this gives them an opportunity to make more money and also offer a service. The rate the agencies charge cover usage of the vehicles, pay for the officers and insurance. Its truly a win-win for both sides.

  • guesty

    If us nay sayers have to shut-up, you people for it have to shut-up as well.

  • Guest Lee

    This is a public forum, so nay-sayers have as much right to post on here as you do, even if you don’t agree with their comments. I guess your mama never taught you that telling people to shutup is rude.

    “In this, and like communities, public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed.” Abraham Lincoln

  • Guest Lee

    Actually, with taxes, pension, and insurance being taken out, that $1,000 only came to about $600. A friend of mine said he didn’t quite have enough to pay his property taxes, but he was still grateful to get a raise of any kind.

    Many city workers have retired or left for other employment over the past few years, and there has been a long hiring freeze. Vacancies aren’t being filled. Employees are working much more with much less than they used to have. A stadium is a luxury. A paycheck to feed their families is a necessity. In this hard economy, jobs are what people need…not a baseball park.

  • kendrick108

    I agree

  • Vog46

    I love baseball and would regularly attend minor league games when I lived in RI. I watched the Pawtucket Red Sox (PawSox) the triple AAA team for the nearby Boston Red Sox.
    Pawtucket is a city of about 77,000 a few years back so it’s smaller then Wilmington. But here’s the REAL issue – Pawtucket could “draw on” the metro Providence area which contains 1.6 million people in Providence itself, North Providence and other nearby townships.

    We don’t have that population density here. Wilmington may have 99,000 residents but there’s no nearby large cities to draw on if the local population isn’t interested. Do we really think Leland and Navassa residents will fill the empty seats?
    I’m sure the Brave will pull the plug on the teams location should attendance be off for any extended period of time. I don’t think they’ll “make it” myself. I hope I’m wrong but I don’t see Wilmington supporting both college sports and minor league sports on a consistent basis.

    Best Regards

    I thought I was here a minute ago


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