Wilmington City Council to tour Durham ballpark

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Submitted: Sat, 03/10/2012 - 4:59am
Updated: Sun, 03/11/2012 - 12:45am

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington City Council is making a road trip to check out life in the minor leagues.

Durham Mayor Bill Bell has invited the council members to visit the Durham Bulls Athletic Park next week to hear first hand about the City of Durham’s experience with development of a minor league baseball stadium and its economic impact.

Council members will tour the ballpark and hear from Durham leaders about how the development around the stadium, called the American Tobacco District, which they will also tour, came about.

Wilmington City Council is considering a plan to build a minor league ballpark in Wilmington that would be home to an Atlanta Braves farm team, as well as hosting other events throughout the year.

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27 Comments on "Wilmington City Council to tour Durham ballpark"

2015 years 8 months ago

I love how everybody is jumping to conclusions about all of this when NO decision has been made. Everybody keeps saying “let private money fund it.” IF this is a huge success then you’re gonna be the ones yelling “why didn’t we do this, the city could use all of this money.” Let the process play out and then if you have a reason to complain, I’ll have no problem with it. Not only that, but why wouldn’t you go to the game to support your town? All the nay-sayers on here keep talking about how they won’t go, but that’s like saying you’re not gonna change the oil in your car bc of the mess oil drilling makes. In the end we are one town and these officials were voted in. Like it or not, they are the one’s that the citizens chose to make these decisions.
As for all of the public outcry over this being built, I’m sure there’s more people who actually are in support than you can see. Most people who support it are probably waiting to see the details before they go public. What if the Braves paid all of their 20-year rent up front and that money was used to build the stadium? Nobody would be complaining then. Or even if they put up half the rent and the rest could be taken care of without raising taxes? Let these leaders do what they were elected to do before rushing to judgement.

2015 years 8 months ago

If they were to do one, Durham is a great model. It has supporting businesses and is in the lively revitalized Tobacco Campus. There’s plenty of parking and many places to go before and after a game. Even a swank sports bar style restaurant that has a patio overlooking the field.

2015 years 8 months ago

nonetheless, the powers that be need to consider the loss of a team and the impact financially on a facility with no team or sponsors.

And in considering the job count, one must remember the players and managers are paid by the big league affiliate. Do not think those can be counted when considering the impact on job creation.

2015 years 8 months ago

Regardless of what others have done, the people have made it clear that they do not want a ball park unless it is self-sustaining. Yet, the officials seem to have totally ignored the very ones that they are supposed to represent.

2015 years 8 months ago

an overnighter. The legislature is not in session; no need to stop in Raleigh. This is an easy day trip with I-40.

Mike T
2015 years 8 months ago

Thank You! But responding to an idiot isn’t necessary.
My wife and I were in Durham last week and as we drove past the Stadium on Durham Freeway we commented on how great their city looks and what an impact the Stadium has on the cities sky line.

2015 years 8 months ago

The Bulls franchise have had teams play in various cities and markets throughout their time. Including Wilmington!! and Myrtle Beach, Still returning to home at the old Athletic Park you mention and the beautiful facility currently. The franchise ownership I checked is with a very credible Capitol Broadcast Company. Being sarcastic before LOL just to get a rise from some and a serious discussion going. I hope for the taxpayers sake and the character of a team Council Members and city leaders think twice. Get a private sponsor with serious interest in running a successful business. Publicly run operations fail time and time again with special interests and payola calling the shots…

2015 years 8 months ago

To your point that the Durham Bulls did build a new park in 1995, that has nothing to do with some of the facts that Guest1234 stated above. The Bulls built a new park due to the old one being so old and small it could no longer effectively support the Triangle area (much larger than Wilmington). It was also located in a very “rough” and somewhat unsafe section of Durham. The Bulls playing field never was and still isn’t sponsored by taxpayer funds, even though they have a new park and played at the old one since the beginning of the 20th century.

Personally, I would really like to see a ballpark built and used by a minor league team, but I am concerned that it will be popular enough to last only more than a few seasons before going defunct. I know what baseball country is and it isn’t here, there’s just no local passion for the sport at that level. If the investors truly thought there was the desire and passion for baseball here, they would throw their money all over it. That isn’t even close to happening. Forcing it down the necks of city residents as taxpayers is an exercise in futility…or perhaps desperation. You have to understand that taxpayers don’t like their money to be used for “guessy”, “chancy”, “maybe”, “possibly” type of endeavors with a slim to none chance on return on their money any more than investors do.

2015 years 8 months ago

you are correct about the building date. But to be fair, perhaps someone should ask why Atlanta pulled the plug and the team is now affiliated with Tampa Bay. And what would have been the outcome had Tampa Bay not stepped to the plate.

Mike S
2015 years 8 months ago

The Gateway Arch in St Louis is beautiful too. What does any of this have to do with Wilmington building a ballpark at the expense of the taxpayers?

Kevin Wuzzardo
2015 years 8 months ago


I’m pretty sure the Braves did not pull the plug. Rather, when MLB expanded adding the Tampa (nee) Devil Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks for the 1999 season, those teams needed minor league affiliates. In 1998, the Bulls moved up to the AAA International League to become the Devil Rays top affiliate. That forced the Braves to move (after one year in Danville, VA, where they had a rookie league team) to Myrtle Beach, where they were the parent team of the Pelicans, until the Pelicans were sold to a guy who also owns the Texas Rangers. That owner decided he wanted the two teams to work together, so the Braves were forced before last season to find a new home for their high-A team. That landed the team in Lynchburg, VA, which is outside of what the Braves call “Braves Country,” which is why they are looking to move to Wilmington.

Funny how that all worked out.

As for the other comments here, I was in no way trying to dispute the original post’s merits. Just trying to set the factual record straight, which is to say the ballpark the City Council will tour is the one built in the 1990s, not the 1930s.

2015 years 8 months ago

Lynchburg was the Pirates affiliate forever as well until Pittsburgh decided to move their A affiliate as a recall. In a way I feel bad for the residents of Central VA who have the luxury of a natural rivalry between Salem and Lynchburg which has existed for years and lead to alot of people traveling between the two cities for road games. Salem as you may know was sold to the owners of the Boston Red Sox and became Bostons Upper A affiliate a few yrs back (2009). It does make sense for Atlanta to move their affiliate to Wilmington and actually with Myrtle Beach not being far away it would create some natural synergy with the Pelicans as well as potentially the Indians affiliate in Kinston which isnt a horrible drive if you really wanted to go for a playoff game. I actually miss being able to go to minor league ball because its still viable and cheap for a family to go to a game vs going to Atlanta or driving to Durham or Johnston County (for the Mudcats). Ive been to a couple Myrtle Beach games but getting there is a nightmare int he summer usually due to tourists.

2015 years 8 months ago

Are the tax payers going to pay for this trip? I’m sure it going to be a wine and dine over night trip with tax payers money! SCRAP THE IDEA!

Shaun O'Rourke
2015 years 8 months ago

I hope they get good advice since the Durham Bulls was privately funded. NO TAX PAYER FUNDS.

2015 years 8 months ago

City Council;

Not just this issue, but many issues. Why do you all continue to ignore what the citizens say? You are where you are because we elected you. I can say that most of you will not be there on the next election. You cannot ask the taxpayers to fund what you want to do. The fair thing to do is put it on the ballot. Once it has been approved on the ballot then go look at any ball park you want to on your dime, not on the taxpayers dime. You want to spend $150,000 dollars on a feasibility study, give me a break. Out of what pot of money is that coming out of? There are still streets that need to paved let alone repaired. There are community services that you have not funded because the city does not have the money. I really don’t understand any of you anymore and I am very upset with most of you. If continue to go ahead with this and ignore the citizens, then I agree it better be funded by drug dealers money and confiscated cars from drug dealers and why not go after the assets of child molesters and perverts with their porn, or kick in your salary. Also when you are thinking and processing all this make a statement to the public that you will no longer fund the Wilmington City police department with these monies, or any education needs because you want a ball park.

Truly fed up with Wilmington City Commissioners.

ball park007
2015 years 8 months ago

Unfortunately, putting it on the ballot won’t help because only a tiny percentage of people vote. Mainly ones who the incumbents bring out.
The people need to wake up & get involved. Maybe they will now they are admitting to raise property taxes to pay for this.

Wilmington Observer
2015 years 8 months ago

For all of the baseball fans in the Wilmington area I would like to remind you of some local teams:

Hoggard High School

Laney High School

New Hanover High School

Ashley High School

Coastal Christian

Cape Fear Optimist Club

Wilmington Sharks “Where Baseball is Fun”

UNCW Seahawks

Wilmingtin Sea Dogs

The list goes on and on from tea ball to professional. Pick a team to support and enjoy all of the baseball you want without the rest of us having to foot the bill for yet another baseball field in Wilmington.

Guest CommonTater
2015 years 8 months ago


I will go on to say however that I do support a baseball team ONLY if the taxpayer has nothing to do with it. Do people actually plan vacations around the Durham Bulls like they do around the beaches we have. I really don’t think so…..

**Honey! Let’s spend our vacation in Durham this year so we can watch the Bull’s play!**

Yea…. right….

2015 years 8 months ago

and I may be mistaken. Don’t the Sea Dogs play basketball?

2015 years 8 months ago

Just satellite annex the Durham Bulls Stadium. Then Wilmington can say it has a stadium and a team. Better yet, why not satellite annex Turner Field in Atlanta and get the Braves too? Declare the annexed stadium as part of downtown ILM and John Hinnant can demand a raise (just put it on the company credit card). WAVE can set up a bus route to the new stadium and suck up even more taxpayer money. And don’t forget to use county and city taxpayer money to fund the private parties.

This might be funny if it weren’t so familiar. Be honest. Do you think that you could sit down and write the next great novel & make up any of this stuff?

2015 years 8 months ago

Hmmm, might wanna check your facts on attendance. The attendance for the game with James Madison on March 9th was 714.

2015 years 8 months ago

Just want to point out that only about 70 people were in attendance at the UNCW game today. An NCAA division 1 team that is expected to make the NCAA field of 64 for the national championship.
That’s 70 people out of all the thousands of students that live on and off campus, all of Wilmington, and all of the surrounding counties. If that doesn’t tell us something about the popularity of baseball in the area, I’m not sure what will.
Again, I like baseball and would love to take my kids, but the people should in no way be paying for this stadium.

Guest 1234
2015 years 8 months ago

I think the Durham Bulls Should give Wilmington a little advice…”We have had a team in Durham since 1904, We built our stadium in ‘1936, We were never sponsored by taxpayers money, and we never will be.”
Wilmington will fail miserably with the approach they are considering, Durham was built on tobacco industry $$$ and has prospered ever since. If you have ever been to the DBAP there stands a water tower over left field with the Lucky Strike brand Cigarettes logo. Maybe Wilmington can fund this stadium with the $$$ it makes with illegal drugs. Crack, Meth, Heroin, Pot all seem to be a real cash crop around here.
These council members must be smoking the good stuff??

Kevin Wuzzardo
2015 years 8 months ago

To be fair, Durham Bulls Athletic Park was built in 1995 to replace the Bulls longtime home Durham Athletic Park, which was seen in the movie “Bull Durham.”

News Content Manager
WWAY NewsChannel 3

2015 years 8 months ago

You need to read the book, “Confessions of the Economic Hit Man.” There are many companies (Hit Man) who just go around selling Economic pipe dreams to towns, cities and states. The Leaders are so interested in growth and advancement and become blind and trusting, (Like the little old church lady). You need to stop and Look around you today. This is not good times. This environment is really bad and not getting better. You guys are Firing People. Good People. You are Retiring People. Your are cutting budgets and services. You have real problems bearing down on you. Going to the ball park and getting your hopes up on something you can’t have is childish. You have not won any success for us because you stood a building up and played a ball game. You will be long gone and we will be stuck with the bill and the leaders after you will be left with another ball to juggle. The Economic Hit man got-cha.

2015 years 8 months ago

Athletes and Team owners are extremely temperamental these days. There is no Loyalty or honor. They thrive on the money in the contracts and endorsement. They are unpredictable. We could do about the same if the mayor would just take all the money he would risk in the idea to Vegas.

2015 years 8 months ago

Now, I will tell You Mayor Saffo and City Council When to get and Stadium and ball team Franchise. Listen very carefully. When a Franchise calls The City of Wilmington and says: We Love your City So much and we Believe in Wilmington enough, and if you would allow “Us”, “WE” will Build a ball Park and our Team would love to call Wilmington “Our Home”.