WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The proposed ballpark has gotten its fair share of attention lately. Tuesday night City Council unanimously voted to start negotiating with Mandalay Baseball and the Atlanta Braves. However, two Wilmington men are trying to stop it from going any further and taking the issue into the hands of the people. Ben McCoy and Joshua Fulton, who previously ran for City Coucil, started a petition to hopefully change how the city can pay for the ballpark.
“It doesn’t matter what your political ideology is or where you stand or what you believe in,” McCoy said. “Your taxes are going up so that Bobby Cox and friends can make money from your risk and your investment.”
“We don’t think they should be gambling with our money essentially,” Fulton said.
The two have organized a citizen-initiated ordinance.
“Citizens of Wilmington can basically introduce whatever ordinance they want if they have enough signatures,” Fulton said. “This powerful tool has not been used by any municipality in the state of North Carolina within the last five years, according to General Counsel for the State Board of Elections.”
They have started a petition to prevent City Council from enforcing a tax raise to pay for the ballpark. City Council has two decisions when handed the petition: they can approve it as-is or put it to a public vote. About 3,000 signatures from registered Wilmington voters are needed for the citizen ordinance to be successful.
“The challenge is getting the message out and reaching everyday people that are outside the normal circles,” McCoy said.
To do just that, the two set up the Facebook group “Stop Tax-Funded Stadium in Downtown Wilmington,” where there’s a link on the wall to sign the petition.
“People need to get involved, they need to wake up,” McCoy said. “They need to get off the couch, they need to determine this issue and see where they stand on it and take steps to support your position.”
Fulton and McCoy have also organized a protest for February 18th at noon behind the Convention Center where you can sign that petition. Copies of the initiatives will also be available for citizens to sign at Wilmington Commercial Realty at College and Oleander and at Hardwire Tattoo downtown.
We contacted several members of City Council, including Mayor Bill Saffo. None were available for comment.