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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.

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47 Comments on "Wilmington men organize citizen ordinance, petition to stop tax funded ballpark"

2015 years 9 months ago

I went by Wilmington Commercial Realty twice today to sign the petition. No one there either time and the second time another car was there for the same purpose. When you call the number there’s never an answer and the mail box is full. If you want people to sign the petition you need to put it somewhere that’s easy to get to, (this place on Oleander is not) and someone needs to be there to allow access to the papers. It needs to be moved so folks can get started on this.

2015 years 9 months ago

I am sure glad all of the Ben “Haters” are spouting out a legitimate argument here instead of trying to personally slander him.. Wow, (by the way.. sarcasm). Look, lets have the debate. I would love a baseball stadium in Wilmington. It would be cool. I could totally get behind a group who wanted to help raise funds voluntarily for it. As a lifelong baseball fan, who subscribes to MLB.tv to watch tons of games, along with catching a game whenever I go to New York, I would LOVE to see a stadium here. I might even buy season tickets…AS LONG AS it wasn’t built by theft of the taxpayer for the gain of Big Business.

The point is, lets have the debate. The people who sit here and slander people’s character need to grow up. You sound like a bunch of whiny little crybabies. I am hopeful you are not, so we can have an intelligent conversation. But based on this thread, it sounds like Ben and Josh are going to win the intellectual argument.

2015 years 9 months ago

I don’t agree with idea of a taxpayer funded ballpark at all. While a ballpark would be a good idea if we had adequate space for it in its current location but in the space alloted it would be cramped and wouldn’t adequately accommodate the people the way it needs too. But that’s not the real reason the ball park should not be there and that’s it would be forcibly funded by the taxpayers. That is not right any way you look at. The purpose for taxes is to provide goods and services a community needs (ie infrastructure, police protection, fire protection etc) not what a select few want. The main people pushing for the project are the mayor and city council. If the community would have wanted a team the other would have not failed and there would be that as an obvious option but as history tells us the community will not sustain a baseball team for more than a few years at most and when interest wanes the team will move like the previous. And if there were so interested in playing in town why couldn’t they play at either legion stadium or the uncw like before. Why build a 30 million dollar field at the expense of the taxpayer when there are two viable locations already? I’ll tell you why and all you have to do is follow the dollar signs. Who stands to gain almost more than anyone from a new taxpayer field downtown? Bill Saffo! That’s who. He owns multiple properties on front street alone and a new field that costs him nothing to build but would single handedly drive property values thru the roof in the vicinity of the stadium. I think if I were him I would vote yes to if owned property on the exact road the ballpark was going. It’s a no brainer really and if I owned multiple commercial properties the vote would be hell yes. And there is no telling if other city councilmen own property too in the area but my guess is yes. Mayor Saffo already did a downtown revitalization project at the taxpayer expense to increase property values this making himself richer this would be just one more thing to line those pockets alittle more all the whole the taxpayer pays for it. No a bad racket if you ask me, if I could do all that I would like to be mayor too. All the while the majority of wilmingtonians have no clue this is really going on. I don’t mean to be a Saffo basher it just doesn’t seem right on so many levels to ask the taxpayers to pay for something it doesn’t really need or want. We need to to be putting that money into programs and services to get our people back to work. Getting our community off it’s back is where our heads need to be. Tax increases for leisure risky projects should be at the very last hint on our minds right now. But it’s that whole putting the cart before he horse mentality that got us in the mess we are in anyways.

Justin LaNasa
2015 years 9 months ago

I own property in the city and the county! and I say if you want a stadium john buy it!!! or invest with your own money!! not my tax dollars or the other 80% of the populous who agrees in stopping senseless spending !!!!

Peyton Garrett
2015 years 9 months ago

How did the University lose any money? Brooks Field was upgraded by the Roosters. I have never heard anything about the University losing any money.


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