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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A new poll shows that a taxpayer funded baseball stadium in the port city is striking out among many of its voters. Wilmington leaders say they’re not surprised.

“I think that we still have to continue and research,” Wilmington Downtown Inc.’s John Hinnant said. “It’s too soon to throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

This could be a pop out for the City of Wilmington.

The poll of 300 Wilmington registered voters by WWAY NewsChannel 3, the Big Talker FM and the Civitas Institute says the majority of them are not in favor of a baseball stadium in their city, unless it’s privately funded.

Seventy percent of the registered voters responding to the poll opposed a city-financed $40 million ballpark, with only 20 percent supporting the idea. Nine percent were unsure. Opposition crossed the gender gap: 73 percent of the men and 69 percent of the women opposed a city-funded field.


Opposition rose to 86 percent if taxes had to be increased to pay for it. On the other hand, 82 percent of the respondents said they’d support a stadium built by a private developer.

“If you asked anyone do you want to use taxpayers’ money for beach renourishment, for the riverwalk, for a lot of projects around town, you would get a response very similar to that,” Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said. “I think that we all want to see as much of the private sector pick up the cost as possible.”

City leaders say the project is only in the exploration phase, and they still do not know how they will finance it.

But did this poll turn any heads?

“I hadn’t made up my mind,” Wilmington City Councilman Neil Anderson said. “We’re trying to find out. We’re exploring a lot of different options in terms of how we pay for it, and we’re having a lot of people figure out the feasibility of it.”

Leaders say the public should wait until a final decision before they jump to any conclusions.

“All I ask is for us to get the facts before anyone starts to formulate their opinion, and based on the way that some of these surveys have been rolled out, I can understand the fear in a lot of people’s mind, ‘I don’t want my property tax to go up.’ We understand that,” Saffo said.

“Wilmington voters are greeting the notion of a city-funded ball field with a loud and clear ‘You’re out!'” Civitas Institute President Francis De Luca said. “The poll suggests that stadium supporters need to find private funding and leave taxpayers’ wallets alone.”

For the poll, 300 Wilmington registered voters were interviewed by SurveyUSA from Feb. 25 through 27, exclusively for the Civitas Institute of Raleigh along with media partners WWAY NewsChannel 3 and “The Big Talker FM.

Comment on this Story

  • Guest461

    …because Ol’ Hairspray Saffo himself has basically said, “Hey does anyone want their taxes increased to fund our new baseball stadium?” There has been zero discussion about a “fully investor funded” stadium. Ya know why? Because smart investors aren’t stupid and taxpayers have no choice! There is no possible way that an investor would turn away from a profitable venture and they simply do not see that with the stadium and marina. NH county is out of this deal and have flat out said so. Saffo knows that to get rid of that land for the two white elephants, he will have to burden the taxpayers to do it, because it can’t make a profit or support itself. Do you even have a clue as to how many nice marinas exist that are barely half full? Would you have a clue as to why someone would even want to keep a nice white yacht in the swill water of the Cape Fear River to watch it turn orange. Look at all of the empty slips that already exist downtown and obeserve the quality of the boats that DO occupy slips. YEEEEEECCCCHHHHH!

    Sorry Kilroy, the poll speaks for itself and there will be more. At least it provides the citizens with information and gets them to think about what is really getting ready to happen. You wouldn’t happen to own or be involved with the sale of any of that riverfront property would you?

  • Guest111

    Our arrogant city board will push this through. Get ready, tax payers. Gee, to those of you who sat home on your butts on election day, aren’t you glad you did nothing and let these same ole same oles go back into office? You should feel proud.

  • Guest867-5309

    It’s all about what Saffo and his minions want. This country is in the shape it’s in because, people in power keep spending money they don’t have, then tax the hell out of us to make up for their mistakes. Saffo needs to go back to his gated community, lock the gate behind him and never come out again.IMO.

  • Mike Tt

    Things must really be slow at WWAY? Getting yourself involved in this poll at this time only indicates your desire to keep stirring the stink.
    Why didn’t you just have someone go out on the street and scream ” Hey does anyone want their taxes increased” How stupid!! Our citizens have not even had any opportunity to review any business plan that may very well fund a stadium. There are so many avenues of funding that have yet to be disclosed. When the city is ready to unveil their business plan the public may very well endorse what they see. Maybe NHC comes in?
    Maybe public/private options surface. This stadium is like an economic development project, The Braves and Mandalay provide the business. The city/county provide the incentives if the payback is solid and short term. Lets see a lot more info before you hold another poll!

  • Erlkoenig

    The point of this taxpayer funded sink hole is to be a monument to Taxo saffo’s ego and has nothing to do with responsible leadership.

  • Jer III

    Well put!!! I couldn’t agree more.

  • SurfCityTom

    wait until a decision is made before folks jump to conclusions.

    It could be 99.9% of the taxpaying public opposed to a publicly funded ball park. Would not matter.

    Let Hinnant, Mayor Saffo, and one or two other Councilmen favor it; and they will build it.

    They won’t know how to pay for it. They won’t care if it is self supporting once built.

    It will be a star on Hinnant’s resume; and he is looking at other career options if he is smart.

    It will be a commission in someone’s real estate checking account no doubt.

    And it will have a salon for the Mayor’s between inning adjustments due to wind.

  • Guest111

    I would bet my paycheck that this is a done deal. These talks have been going on for months before we knew about it. No need to wait. . just watch it unfold. Arrogance!!

  • todd

    This is how you can pay for the ballpark. Get couple restaraunts to help pay for the park. Put them at the entrance of the stadium. They can be open all year and most of the time rest of the field can be closed or open. Depending on how warm it is. When minor league isn’t playing have Sharks play they. As for the Legion stadium open it for public and have people pay for it as upkeep. Next As the restaraunts is open they will pay rent there and be paying the stadium rent. And will make up cost.

  • Indy

    If the polling was sponsored by an impartial organization, I might give some credence to these results. But it’s not. It’s sponsored by the Civitas Institute – “North Carolina’s Conservative Voice”.

  • Scott Pickey

    Indy – I encourage you to click the link and look at the crosstabs and other details.

    For example, 28% of the 300 registered voters were Republican. 43% (almost half) were Democrat. 25% were Independent.

    We asked other questions that we’ll post over the next few days that make us very comfortable that this is a solid poll without a right-wing slant.


    Scott Pickey
    WWAY News Director

  • Guest28451

    the City Council and Mayor for life Saffo and the rest of the Dumbocrats on the council will continue to do what they want because the freeloading, no taxpaying, welfare and WIC check receivers from Creekwood and other projects will continue to vote these idiots into office (who I might add wont go to any baseball games because the hoodrats only like the gangster ball aka basketball) who will do what they want (well except to continue to try and swallow the rest of NHC when the Legislature finally put a stop to that). Although I have to say it again maybe forced annexation is the only way to stop the council. If the council continues to swallow the county eventually the republicans might have a strong enough voice and enough voters to stop the madness in the city till then good luck stopping Saffo and Company because it just isnt going to happen. I was happy to get outta of the city because everytime I turned around my water/trash rates were rising as fast as CFPUA could raise them (never seen a utility pass rate hikes so fast that the rates were rising nearly bi monthly). As the Jack Nicholson so politely put it as the Joker in the orginal Batman movie with Keaton.. “This town needs an enema” and that couldnt be closer to the truth when it comes to Saffo and the rest of the Dumbocrat spend and tax liberals on the city council.

    I wish the Republican candidates luck in the election this fall but dont give them a snowballs chance in hell of winning any seats sadly.

  • Guest757

    Instead of the City of Wilmington paying over a $140,000.00 for a study of a baseball stadium, the city should buy the filters…..which is more important to the firefighters and the citizens of Wilmington??

  • Guest787

    Feasibility Study was done in Hardin, Montana and recommended the building of a $25 million Prison. Now it’s been three years and not one inmate has entered the facility yet. The monthly utilities on the empty facility are $20,000 a month. The Town has even offered to take in the Terrorist Prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. No Such Luck, still empty. I wander what the Feasibility Study will Recommend to Wilmington, Do you really have to ask?

  • Guest22

    Build it. This would make a great venue for the Occupy Wilmington crowd.

  • Chad Adams

    Folks are united in supporting the stadium if it’s privately funded. A poll is nothing more than a snapshot. The reason people use them and like them is for that reason. It is interesting that folks upset about it aren’t identifying themselves. As a property owner downtown this project has a lot move value IF it is privately funded. If it can make money, then it doesn’t need to take money away from other folks who earn it.

  • Challengetheworld

    If it’s coming from the Big Talker FM…its right wing. They are affiliated with Hannity & FAUX NEWS.

  • Moderate

    Mr. Pickey, the polling may be objective, but having conservative talk radio host Chad Adams on to discuss it immediately diminished the poll’s credibility, especially when Mr. Adams gave his very un-objective opinions about the matter. I expect better from a local news source!

  • Chad Adams

    The point of the commentary was that at least you know I’m a conservative commentator. We have yet to know how the elected officials feel about this matter. If you look at the cross tabs, you’ll see that this survey actually shows the community united in opposition to taxpayers funding this project. Across political affiliation, democrats, unaffiliated and republicans all oppose taxes going up to fund this, they oppose it as a priority for Wilmington, they oppose it being funded by WIlmington and they are united in supporting it as a private venture.
    My perspective isn’t a mystery, but we should be concerned when our elected official’s opinions are. And we should also be concerned when groups receiving taxpayer money support more taxpayer supported ventures.

  • Someone talking about it doesn’t change the results of the poll. Sounds like you just don’t like the results of the it produced.

  • Challengetheworld

    The Poll is of 300 people. Its just a small snapshot and not an accurate portrayal of the actual overall feeling of all Wilmington Voters.

    I also support it as a private venture but thats not the message everyone is getting from your group as a whole. We do need some City Support to attract the right Sponsor so please be clear that you do not support a tax funded stadium.

    Jobs Jobs Jobs….revenue…tourists…etc. All those things we need.

  • Del Pietro

    Very well said Chad. As a moderate Democrat I am passionately opposed to using any tax revenue whatsoever for this project. It would be immoral.

  • David

    It amazes me how many local politicians around the country fall for vanity projects such as this one. “If you build it, they will come.” Sorry folks, that’s only in the movies.

    Let the Private Sector decide whether or not such a project makes sense. Let them take the risks and reap the rewards – or bear the losses. Personally, I’d love to see private investors conclude that such a project makes sense and start building it right away. But, I find the idea of local politicians putting residents on the hook for any negative consequences simply absurd. Don’t let them trick you with creative financing. We’ve all seen the consequences of that nonsense in the housing market.

    BTW, doesn’t most of the money for beach nourishment come from the Army Corps of Engineers or Raleigh? How much of the stadium cost are they willing to put up?

  • Guest111

    Same for the convention center.


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