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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Building a baseball stadium has been a hot topic of conversation in Wilmington. Now, some local business leaders are stepping up to bat to support the city’s effort.

The Wilmington Ballpark Coalition says it is banding together for an idea members think is a home run.

“We feel like economic development is a great boost to the economy, number one. It’s affordable entertainment, number two. And number three, we feel like it can be a multi-use facility, so it’s going to be used for more than just baseball,” WBC chair James Hundley Jr. said.

The variety of business leaders say they share a common vision with Wilmington City Council, and they want the city to know they’re ready to pitch in to push the ballpark plan.

“We are here just to support they city’s efforts and make sure that they understand there’s someone else out there other than the ‘just say no’ crowd,” Hundley said.

Hundley says the “just say no” crowd is the people in protesting the possibility of using tax money to build the stadium. Opposition organizer Ben McCoy says the group does not say no to every idea, just the ones that are not thought through.

“We fully support private investment,” McCoy said. “Mandalay (Baseball Properties), the (Atlanta) Braves, anybody building a stadium in Wilmington, we would openly support that, but taxpayers don’t have the money, and they clearly do not support paying for it.”

McCoy says if the the WBC really wants a ballpark, its members should step up to the plate.

“If these are business owners that are stepping up and saying, ‘Hey, we want this,’ put your money where your mouth is,” McCoy said.

Mccoy says the petition that is circulating opposing the ballpark has upwards of 2,000 signatures. The group now needs anyone with a petition to return it so they can count up and verify the signatures.

Members of the coalition include:
Jim Hundley, Jr., Chairman
Dr. James Hundley Sr., Vice-Chairman
Margaret Weller-Stargell, Vice-Chairman
Tom Babel – Ward and Smith
Dick Blouse – Global Perspectives, LLC
Dr. William Carmichael – Riverside Dental Arts
Ken Dull – McKinley Building Corporation
Chris Fernandez
Matt Henrie – MedTech Associates
Russell Johnson ¬– RJR Productions Inc.
Hal Kitchin – McGuire Woods LLP
Emily Longley – Longley Supply Co.
Capt. Howard Loving – U.S. Navy (Retired)
Connie Majure-Rhett – Wilmington Chamber of Commerce
Roy Morgan – Signs by Tomorrow
Dallas Romanowski – Cornerstone Advisory Partners
Jarrett Shearin – Senn Dunn Insurance
Terry Spencer
Mary Margaret Latham-Vann – Parkway Volvo
Bill Vasser – Screen Gems Studios
John Hinnant – Wilmington Downtown Inc
Jonathan Weiss – City Club at deRosset
Rob Ziglar – East Coast Contracting

Comment on this Story

  • Justin America

    Wake County Judge was reportedly a relative of a concerned party. With Nepotism, no pay needed.

  • Guest?

    Maybe don’t drive on 3rd street! there are many other streets with numbers downtown that go in the same direction. Besides, I thought they were digging up third street to replace old sewer pipes? Isn’t that investing in our infrastructure?

  • Just another College Student

    How about investing TAX money into the infrastructure that is in desperate need. I for one am tired of dealing with the mess downtown on third street. It would be nice to have roads that can handle the traffic flow and don’t beat your car to death. Really we should have voted for the tattoo shop owner.

  • Guesto

    You do realize that the goal is to remain revenue neutral after the reevaluation. For every property that sees a reduction in taxes means another property will be paying more. So, yes some may see a reduction, but some may see an increase too. That’s all before a possible increase across the board.

    I don’t follow real estate prices that closely, but it seems like the smaller homes declined the least percentage wise. Those are people who are most likely looking at an increase before any additional tax increases are even considered.

    As far as funding goes, do a little research on how other ballparks are funded. There are other options other than just laying it on the taxpayers.

  • cintrek

    I for one am not a fan of baseball, puts me to sleep. Plus going out anywhere isn’t in my budget & alot of people I know in this town. Why not have those business leaders & city officials pay for it out of their own pockets since the rest of us spend our money paying our bills, rising gas prices, food prices, etc. Believe me I keep my financial life very simple & live below my means & take care of what I need. What I want is a luxury. The City of Wilmington should take those same lessons & apply it to the budget & realize that the ball stadium can wait for another day. Haste makes waste & throwing good money after bad just makes life a whole lot harder for everyone. Quit catering to a select few who can afford to throw away money like some of these business leaders-you pay for it cause I know I won’t be buying a ticket ever. And yes I do own my own home & pay property taxes & vote.

  • Guest461

    How dare you call the Wilmington citizens a “just say no crowd”! Nobody has said “NO” to your baseball pipe dream, they just say “NO” to using their tax money to build it! If all of you pompous and arrogant “Do it our way, regardless…” types REALLY believe in this baseball venture, then put YOUR money up and reap all of the profits OR take it in the shorts should history repeat itself once again. Don’t burden the taxpayers with your baseless risks (no pun intended) shoved down their throat while you walk away smiling with your pockets full! Most of all never, ever undermine these citizens with short-sighted, arrogant and finger-pointing remarks as you have! As far as I’m concerned Hundley, you AND your coalition should find the short and descreet route out of our town!

  • Guest1414

    What this Baseball fiasco reflects is power and greed of the cabal in Wilmington that has long controlled our town and enriched themselves.
    Neither McCoy or his friends have profited from deals over the last twenty years. Mistakes they make- but not the arrogance and greed and hypocrisy reflected by the likes of Saffo, Catlin and Company. I LIKE baseball– but it has yet to be proven it will make money for the taxpayers of Wilmington. If you can’t show that then dont use taxpayer money. Instead of attacking young guys -i”d be real careful The bozzos who run this town are no great shakes. Better the transparency of the three you attack than the losers we have had. Those three young guys have been blistered by the “guys” who think they own this City. As we learned last week better them than the likes of Saffo,Catlin and Davis. Hang in there Ben, Brian and Josh!

  • Guest7969

    “- with the reevaluation of property values there’s a chance they could raise taxes, yet you still would pay the same if not less in taxes than you did last year”

    HUH!? THIS statement makes NO SENSE..you just don’t know what your talking about or how the tax works.

    “- with all of the business that would be built around the ballpark, it would raise the value of the land and help to revitalize the area of town that it is in”

    WRONG…can you GUARANTEE that!? “ALL of the business”…LOL

    “- it makes absolutely ZERO sense for this to be built with private only funds. Let’s be serious, the way this needs to be handled is that the city breaks even on the ball park.”

    It has been proven and shown with ballparks ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY that the city will NOT break even and it will be FURTHER SUBSIDIZED by the taxpayers…IF this is such a GREAT venture being privately funded shouldn’t be an issue…people should be knocking the doors down to get in!

  • SurfCityTom

    look at the make up of the group. A fair number of them could benefit in some way from the stadium erection and team placement.

    Attorneys, Insurance Agency, Sign Makers, Wilmington Downtown & its ever vocal Executive Director, and the list could go on.

    Eliminate every one who personally or professionally could benefit from the ball team and stadium; who’s left.

    And there’s someone posting under a hidden identity who is praising every post in favor of the stadium and criticizing everyone opposed to the construction with public funds. Would that be the Executive Director, the Developer or the Mayor?

  • GuestMan

    This was a done deal before the public ever heard about it.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday

    The “just say no crowd” has only said no to using **THEIR** money, and that crowd comprises almost 80% of the city population…

    …oh, but I’m sure they appreciate your little group’s elitist, “We know better” attitude.

  • joe T.

    Tax dollars for a ball park is clearly WRONG.

    Sounds like Wilmington is already spending those additional tax dollars they are going to pump out of the Monkey Junction annexation.

    The Civic Center and Parking Garages aren’t paying for themselves and now they want to increase the fiscal burden by building something that will be EMPTY 90% of the time.

    Next crisis will be paying the electric bill for the lights in this stadium.

    Politicians and Greedy Developers please sit back and smell reality; we the people are getting tired of increased taxes, road congestion with ever lowering speed limits, shoddy developments and the talk about increasing parking meter fees or times.

  • Guest1313

    Everybody talking about how these people need to pony up the money are complete idiots!!! Let’s break this down a little:
    – with the reevaluation of property values there’s a chance they could raise taxes, yet you still would pay the same if not less in taxes than you did last year
    – with all of the business that would be built around the ballpark, it would raise the value of the land and help to revitalize the area of town that it is in
    – it makes absolutely ZERO sense for this to be built with private only funds. Let’s be serious, the way this needs to be handled is that the city breaks even on the ball park. No private group would be profitable with building this ball park. Before you start thinking I made your point for not building it, think about the tax base that would be created around the stadium. As a private investor, you would not reap the rewards of the new taxes coming in. THIS is where the city will make money on the team.
    The “leaders” of the groups opposing the ball park are definitely doing it for other reasons. Ben McCoy just loves stirring up attention. Look at what he did to get Berger elected and how well listening to him on that worked out for the residents of this county. Josh Fulton is just mad he didn’t win his bid to be on the city council and see’s this as a win-win for his political career. You have to look at this as an investment for the city. Of all the stories I’ve read about towns building ball parks, only 1 has seemed unsuccessful. In Virginia where the stadium wasn’t successful it was because of a horrible design that wasn’t nice when they originally built it. You get what you pay for folks and if you can’t sacrifice quality

  • Guest16

    The leader of this group is Dr. James Hundley. Is this the same Dr. Hundley that the US Attorney is now suing for illegal acts, poor management, “fraudulent” acts relating to banking, or otherwise helping to run Cooperative Bank in the dirt? Incidentally, this entire group needs to be examined and their true motives unmasked.

    I support private investment but I do not favor using public taxpayer’s funds to help fund the private piggy bank of self-interested folks.

    In addition, the place for a baseball stadium is in an urban blighted area not on prime riverfront land.

  • Guesti.

    Wow I guess they had money to pay these people off after they paid they paid the judge in wake county off….

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