Wilmington leaders tour Durham ballpark

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Submitted: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 8:47pm
Updated: Sun, 03/18/2012 - 1:49am

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington leaders are doing their homework when it comes to building a ballpark downtown. Today, city council members and other local leaders toured the home of the Durham Bulls.

“This was a pretty desolate area during the 70’s and it’s very vibrant today and you can’t even find a parking space down here,” Mayor Bill Saffo said.

Durham leaders say their city-owned stadium has been a home run. Taxpayers pumped nearly $20 million in COP bonds toward building Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The park is city owned. City officials say since it opened in 1994, it has revitalized the Durham area.

“It was very controversial when it happened. now you can’t find anyone who says they were against it,” said George Habel with Capital Broadcasting Company.

“It turned out to be a very good risk. if we had to do it over again, there’s no question it would be done,” said Durham Mayor William Bell. “We had a lot of nay sayers but you don’t find those nay sayers now. everybody’s talking about the good things that are happening as a result of it.”

Some of those good things include nearly 3 million square feet of office space, most of which is leased, as well as a thousand residential units.

Wilmington city leaders say this could be the facelift the Port City needs, but there is still more work to be done.

“We’re charged with getting out here and getting all the facts, getting all the information, and making certain that we understand all the financing mechanisms in place to do this,” Mayor Saffo said.


  • PublicAvenger says:

    What a waste of money.

  • Gramps1935 says:

    They also need to tour the Durham area, and understand it has a population base ten times greater then ours.

  • LivingLife says:

    Wilmington is a one sided town, meaning that the town is sided by the ocean, its greatest asset. Unless a fish will be sold tickets, that cuts out around 1/3 of the geographic area to pull from. As the Mayor stated they pull the bulk of their patrons from Wake County. I just don’t feel that Brunswick, New Hanover, Onslow and Pender Counties will sustain a ball park. Wilmington dose not have the population to pull from that will not compete with the Durham field. And that puts a lot of pressure on the team to be very good of which takes even more money. If we want “THEM” to come, build more dealing with the beaches. More ocean front hotels, restaurants, compete with Myrtle Beach and “They WILL come” Compete with your main asset and not with something that can be built all across the nation.

  • Guest Apu says:

    Exactly – It isn’t conicidental that the minor league team with the best attendance in teh country comes from an area the size of the Triangle, which has no major league team anywhere nearby.

    I just can’t get over how a group of council members who pledged not to raise taxes, just change their minds like that. Just shows how politicians of any party will pretty much say anything to get elected. I hope the same thing happens to them that happened to Bush the first when he broke his “read my lips, no new taxes” pledge.

    I still own a vacation home and pay taxes in Wilmington, but live in Charlotte. Our city had a ballot measure for the citizens to vote on spending money on a light rail line. It was overwhelmingly voted down – the people didn’t want to pay for it. So the city diverted funds from other areas and built it anyway, with the council’s blessing, completely thumbing their noses at the taxpayers. Politicians just do as they d__n well please.

  • Guest111 says:

    Who are some of the OTHER “local leaders?” It’s a done deal, Wilmington. Batter up!

  • tsp says:

    They should also check out the Myrtle Beach stadium. It was built around 1999, is located near downtown, and is in an area that is a little more similar in size and income to Wilmington than Durham.

  • Guestfri says:

    Investors buy a share of the lease revenue. Am I understanding that correctly? Let the investors invest here too. Leave the taxpayers out of it. If it worked so well in Durham there should be no shortage of investors for Wilmington.

  • not again.. says:

    this reminds me of all the public opinion in reference to convention center. the thing was pushed thru anf now we have abeautiful empty building 90% of time. same thing going on with stadium. Completely disregarding public opinion anf fastracking their way to build it. saffo and company will do what is in the best interest of their wallet. speculators run with the money thet get it from us taxpayers. good ole wilm same old good ole boys They should come down to cb and look at the miracles arcadius has done for the town…….

  • Mike T says:

    There was a story in the Star News last week that indicates the convention center has had some 600 bookings and that the management team was doing a great job and that the center is being considered a success!
    It is predicted that when additional hotel rooms become available the convention center will attract many more and much larger users. Your post is not correct and you should give closer attention to the truth.

  • Guestmarcs says:

    So, the County Commissioners just turned down a $9,000 grant because they thought women using IUDs were too “irresponsible”. However, when it comes to boys and their (base)balls, a $40 million stadium seems like a “good risk”! Wow.

  • Guest461 says:

    …methods of financing projects. The Durham Bulls have always been investor supported, never by taxpayers. The minor league team has played in Durham for over a hundred years, the majority of that on the small, inner city field where the patrons walked to the games and got in for a dime. If the city would start out like that here to find what success will occur, they could save a lot of trouble OR could find a sparkling jewel. If the jewel is discovered, THEN spend 20 million on a fancy park (Guess what? Investor will be all over it at that point!). The method the city is using to force this park is a set up for disaster.

    I lived in Durham for a few years, other that the RTP and Duke University/Medcal Center, Durham is nothing but a stinking ghetto riddled with crime and drug activity!

  • Guest11 says:

    County sells hospital to help pay foolish stadium debt.
    The financial situation in Hamilton County, Ohio.

  • Besty_Guesty says:

    If one dollar of taxpayer money is spent on yet another boondoggle like this baseball stadium, I will never buy a ticket, set foot in it, or support it in any way. If it is built with private money as a private venture, I’ll see you at the ballpark.

    Factor that into your economic development projections!

  • Guest Apu says:

    You’re exactly right about the “build it and they will come” mentality. That worked real well for the Hard Rock Park in Myrtle Beach didn’t it?

  • Guest111 says:

    I would like to see the books on the convention center. . maybe a P & L, too. I would have to see it with my own eyes to believe it.

  • taxpayer says:

    You silly wabbit…twix are for kids…and stories in the Star-News are pure horse-squeeze. Do you really expect the Red Star-News to print anything negative about Hairspray Saffo and his band of merry spenders?

    “It is predicted”…while predicted, the numbers don’t lie. The Convention Center does not cover its operating costs and loses money. Hairspray said so himself on the radio last week.

    But keep on believing Mike…the incumbents are going to need all the votes they can get next election day.

  • Mike T says:

    Go by City Hall, I’m sure someone will assist you!!
    Thats a lot better method than someone just spouting off and making up data that they know nothing about!!

  • Mike T says:

    That’s You BUSINESS PRO!! Pick any car in the isle and haul your negative butt on out of town. You have earned it, Business Pro. Oh! you might consider taking a couple of your pals with you. Down Town Burgaw isn’t working too hard on development and word is they operate within budget. The county just re-topped the road, infrastructure shouldn’t be a problem for years. Might be a good place to start looking. It’s close enough that you can drive in for some great baseball in 2014.

  • Guest111 says:

    This sounds like the attitude our council and mayor have. You must be one of them.

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