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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.

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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!

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