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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The City of Wilmington voted last night to officially start talkin’ baseball with the Atlanta Braves and Mandalay Baseball Properties.

The city is not the only one stepping up to the plate when it comes to embracing the construction of a new baseball stadium downtown. Today, the developer met with the Wilmington Area Hospitality Association to discuss his plans, which he says will change the city.

In front of dozens of hotel and tourism professionals, Chuck Schoninger made his pitch for his north downtown development, which includes a baseball stadium.

“With bringing people down here it allows our restaurants to have a better chance at success, our hotels and everything else that we have downtown there available,” Schoninger said.

But Schoninger says the stadium is just one feature of his development. Work is already underway on a marina, and construction of a Hotel Indigo should start soon.

But what if the city or tax payers don’t end up building the stadium? Schoninger admits he does not have a back up plan to financially support the stadium with private funds.

Despite the uncertain future of a baseball stadium, the developer says he’ll continue to build. He says Wilmington has a need for multi-use buildings and a hotel.

Wilmington Downtown Inc.’s John Hinnant also presented alongside Schoninger. Hinnant said the ballpark is an investment that citizens should think about.

“If we as citizens want a thriving, growing, prosperous community, then we, all of us, must have skin in the game,” Hinnant said. “This is an opportunity for us to spur significant economic development.”

Of course, there is also strong opposition to using taxpayer money to build a ballpark. Opponents to the plan have started a Facebook page called Stop Tax-Funded Stadium in Downtown Wilmington.

Comment on this Story

  • Peyton Garrett

    SCT, while from a base land cost yes that would be a little cheaper, Actual construction cost may be a little more but the other pieces of the puzzle that would be needed in the long run are not in place in Pender and probably won’t be for years. Sewer capacity is limited and right now ends in Rocky Point. Restaurants, shopping, and other entertainment is not available. These assets and other perks are what will make this viable. Each City has it’s pros and cons. I just think of what can be done in the next few years with the added Hotels and the proximity to the convention center. Pender is just not the answer now. I think it is amazing what they did in Durham. The same, on almost the same scale could be along the Wilmington Waterfront. Cost and how to pay for it will be key. I don’t see it happening without the county on board. It would be nice to figure a way to do it regionally with Pender and Brunswick. I don’t know How that could be structured. It can not be with property taxes that is a given. I still want to see something in writing.

  • SurfCityTom

    should begin looking for that alternate source of funding which the developer has not searched for. There seems to be quite a strong opposition to the ballpark if it depends on public funding for construction. And the Mayor has already stated there will have to be a property tax increase to fund it.

    Again, why not head up I-40 to Pender or Duplin County? Cheap land; cheap ballpark labor; easy access with no parking issues.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday

    “If we as citizens want a thriving, growing, prosperous community, then we, all of us, must DO SOMETHING TO STOP THE CORRUPT, LYING SACKS OF ____ FROM SPENDING US INTO THE POORHOUSE.”

    How much is your little cadre of do-nothings still sucking from the city Mister Hinnant?

    Everyone, please don’t ever forget: If this was a money-maker, they would not be trying to pick your pockets. If they weren’t scamming, there would be no reason to use tax money; people would be fighting to cough up private venture capital. Why would you want to share your profits with the city? (You wouldn’t)

  • 28411guest

    Cock-a-doodle-doo..and look what happened to the Roosters, too! We didn’t even have to build the ball park and where are they. Now, you want to build this extravagant ball park that city residents would have to fund. The City Taxpayers, not renters and not tourists or those outside of city limits, would have the burden of increased taxes and cuts of services. These are the folks that you have already penalized with CFPU rates that some have difficulty paying and then their taxes would be so high they would be forced to leave the city. These are also the same people that would never be able to see the team play because they are too broke to be able to afford to come out to the game (admission, parking–probably get a parking ticket on top of it all—add another $20 to the city funds). Of course, your minds are already set; so for some of us, we best get the FOR SALE signs up before the tax rates go up and head to the country.

  • ChefnSurf

    This is the second post in two days to say that. Renters pay property taxes too; they just do it indirectly. Having been a landlord, I can assure you that if my property taxes or other fees associated with my investment increased, some or all of these increases were passed along in the form of rent increases. Rental property owners invest their hard-earned cash in an investment with the intention of making a profit, just like other businesses. The bottom line: Renters, just like property owners “would have the burden of increased taxes and cuts of services”.

  • Guest2020

    “Hinnant said the ballpark is an investment that citizens should think about.”

    Would the citizens get to share in the profits? My guess is “no”. So it is an unwise “investment” if you can even call it that.

    If it’s going to “allow our restaurants to have a better chance at success” then maybe the restaurants should put up the money.

    The ones who stand to gain from the stadium should be the ones to front the money.

  • Guest Reply

    Can you imagine all the gas leaks and gas lines that will be ruptured under ground trying to break ground to build this thing?
    They can’t even finish road work around here without 15,000 delays for issues never thought about to begin with.
    Put the ball field inside the Convention Center, and have a retractable roof in case of high fly balls!

  • richard gieselmanGuest

    What a great opportunity for Wilmington. The Braves are one of the elite organizations not just in baseball, but in all of sports. They are a great community sensitive operation especially in minor league baseball and always enhance the areas in which they operate. It would be a real boost to downtown and is just an honor to have them interested in this area. This is a great chance for Wilmington to take a giant economic leap forward. This is just the opportunity downtown needs. Hotels, conventions, tourism, business, tax base, employment, and quality of life will all benefit from this deal. Lets play ball!

  • SurfCityTom

    can you honestly, and with a straight face, state that a family of 4 will patronize one of the area restaurants; shell out for ballpark parking; and then drop $150 for tickets, souvenirs, programs, snacks and beverages along with some hot dogs in the event anyone is still hungry?

    A $40 million stadium will result in $10 tickets plus overpriced accessories and food.

    It will not work.

    And for the record, and playing the devil’s advocate, will all of the construction be performed by area contractors or will it go to an Atlanta based construction firm with ties to the A Braves?

    Wake Up. Sorry to rain on your parade.


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