Business leaders join ballpark push, tax funding opponents continue petition drive


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Submitted: Mon, 04/09/2012 - 9:21pm
Updated: Tue, 04/10/2012 - 6:02pm
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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

55 Comments

  • Just another College Student says:

    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.

  • Guest? says:

    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?

  • Justin America says:

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

  • Guesti. says:

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

  • Guest16 says:

    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.

  • Guest1313 says:

    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

  • joe T. says:

    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.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    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.

  • GuestMan says:

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

  • SurfCityTom says:

    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?

  • Guest7969 says:

    “- 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!

  • Guest1414 says:

    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!

  • Guest461 says:

    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!

  • cintrek says:

    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.

  • Guesto says:

    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.

  • Guest111 says:

    You are obviously from New York! Dang you got defensive immediately. We don’t need yankees coming down here telling us how it is done up north. Why don’t you pack up and move on back. We really don’t need you here causing trouble. I’m glad you read my posts and I appreciate you using my line… kinda makes you sick, doesn’t it?

  • Guest123 says:

    I feel it’s a mistake for the proponents of this project to try and group all opposed as one group of “no nos” who oppose everything. It would be just as foolish to group everyone for the project as Yankees. I would bet everything I own that there are several Yankee signatures on the petition to keep tax dollars away from this project.

  • ChefnSurf says:

    You must have hit your head with the nail. Seems kind of illogical that “these” folks who moved down here from up north would want another New York. Makes more sense to think they moved here to get away from all that stuff. “They are all yankees”? … Bill Saffo and crew? … You must have been reading their recipes instead of their biographies. What with them both sounding kind of similar, I can see how someone could make that “mistake”. Getting real tired of seeing some people pulling out the proverbial (fill-in-the-blank) card (in this case the Mason-Dixon card) whenever things aren’t going so well in their own environment. Whenever that happens, it just creates a distraction from the original issue(s) and adds divisiveness. Kind of makes you sick, doesn’t it?

  • Guest111 says:

    Hey (Saffo?) If you believe the ball park isn’t a done deal you are living in a fantasy world.

  • convention says:

    Great point Peyton.

    Everyone is up in arms about something that has yet to happen. No firm numbers, no firm financing proposal. Be angry when there is something to be angry about, let the people we voted in do their jobs.

  • Peyton Garrett says:

    Oh, so You must own the west side of the riverbank. another person jumping to conclusions that I am referring to Belville or Leland. There is still no proposal folks. No numbers. Nothing to base any decision on. Just a lot of howling at the moon.

  • Guest111 says:

    No one in the public wanted the damn convention center but it was shoved right down our throats. And, this damn baseball field will be done the same way. Gonna take a lot of A1 Sauce to get this one down. And if you don’t believe it’s coming you are a *&$^(*) fool!!

  • Guest343 says:

    I’m sure it would be convenient for some if those opposed to using tax dollars for this project would keep quiet.

    It’s not a complicated message. Many do not want their tax dollars paying for this project. What will change when the firm numbers are in? Do you think anyone believes that 100% private funding is an option? If by some miracle it does come to fruition then everyone is happy. The ballpark is built and the taxpayers are not burdened.

  • Guestnono says:

    the next time I’m in the city limits (everyday for work), maybe I’ll just bring my lunch from home, buy my gas, groceries, cloths, tires… outside the city limits. Sorry to be in your way!

  • Guester says:

    I’m sure the room occupancy tax does add up to a good chunk of change, but the city doesn’t see that either. The state allocated some for the construction and operation of the convention center, but that’s it.

  • Guesttenheimer says:

    …that couldn’t muster up enough energy to get up out of their easy chair and vote in the city elections? Yeah…those…the 85% do-nothings. I don’t get out of the way of APATHY and laziness and let those types mind anything of concern to me! So…face that Mr BigMouth!!!

  • Joe Knight says:

    I heard the same arguements you people are making about the Winston Salem ballpark. It (The Dash ballpark) was a resounding success. It is making money for the city and has been a great investment in the community. Same goes for Greensboro (although their’s was built with private money). A ballpark would be a great plus for Wilmington as it has for Winston Salem. Build it they will come!!! Joe Knight

  • Guest 10101 says:

    Kind of silly to think that most of the “crying” people are not taxpayers. Seems a bit illogical.

  • Guest111 says:

    No one is going to get out of the way, you idiot! YOU can take yourself to Leland or Burgaw and sit and stew for all we care!!

  • Guest111 says:

    You are an arrogant pile of stuff! I really do think this is Saffo. You have the same attitude as his. . . THIS IS WHAT I WANT AND YOU CAN GET OUT OF THE WAY!! You listening Wilmington?? We can get out of the way. . . how does that sit with you??

  • Ben says:

    I am a county resident opposed to the stadium,because i know if this ball stadium is built the city will try to annex the whole county to fund it. Also i think i will start buying my gas and other goods in the county.

  • Guestnono says:

    The “hardly any” room occupancy tax sure adds up to a good chunk of change. I’m sure you wouldn’t miss that either. Death by a thousand cuts is still death. People choose to live outside of the kingdom of Wilmington for many reasons. For one, The “services” aren’t worth it. That extra tax bill is nothing more than a form of gentrification. The “Can’t afford it, then move” attitude permeates this area.

  • Guester says:

    The city doesn’t see hardly any of that sales tax money back anyway.

  • GuestB says:

    Hey negative Nate – Sounds like you are more hopeful that the convention center fails than anything. Good thing you aren’t running for office now if you want to see the city lose a lot of money. You sure wouldn’t get my vote. The convention center is here now. I hope it does great. I bet businesses downtown are noticing a difference too.

  • Guest1022 says:

    Just interested but where did the money come from to pay for the land?

  • ChefnSurf says:

    With all due respect, taxpayers do pay for it. If the 3% ROC was used for something other than the convention center, that money could be allocated for something else that taxpayers currently are paying for. It’s the old bait and switch. A good example would be the NC “Education” Lottery. Because money comes in from the lottery, money that would have been used from the general fund for education is diverted to something else. Zero net gain in education funds. Seems like it’s easier to live a lie than the truth these days. Too bad this will all catch up someday with our still unborn progeny.

  • Guest111 says:

    That 3% sales tax was NEVER intended for a convention center. In fact, 9 years ago no one was talking about a convention center. The city board said it would be a money maker and take care of itself, (like the ballpark). We have the right to know IF indeed, the convention center is taking care of itself. Why are you reluctant to print a P & L? Got something to hide????

  • Joshua Fulton says:

    I’m sorry, but you’re wrong about the convention center. The convention center loses money every year. This last year it was down about $3M I believe. Saffo completely agrees with this and doesn’t dispute the numbers when asked; however, the exact figures are hardly ever put to him in a public setting.

    The reason the convention center is not drawing from the general fund, yet, is that there is a special convention center fund for it. It has about $11M in it; last year it had $14M. Seeing a trend? The city’s own numbers have shown the convention center going fully into the red by 2020. Now, in some new model they show it going further into the red for a few years then suddenly, magically rebounding into the black around 2020. I’ve asked the city what magical event happens at that time to suddenly make the Convention Center suddenly profitable, but I’ve received no answer. I’ve asked at least twice and the first time was two months ago.

    The convention center, like the overwhelming majority of publicly-funded convention centers across the country, is, I predict, not going to be profitable and will within a decade or less be drawing from the general fund. That’s the only thing to conclude from the trend lines.

    For more information and links to actual documents showing what you’re looking for, not just city propaganda pieces, go here for an intro:

    http://fultonforcouncil.blogspot.com/2011/10/truth-about-convention-center.html

  • Convention says:

    Operation of the Convention Center is funded by a 3% tax visitors pay when they stay in a hotel in Wilmington. City property taxes are not used to fund the Convention Center. Property tax dollars were also not used to build the Convention Center. The North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation in 2003 that created a 3% tax on Wilmington hotel rooms to provide the money necessary to build and operate the Convention Center. These Room Occupancy Tax (ROT) funds, by law, can only be used for the Wilmington Convention Center.

    Anything else you want to find out about the convention center?
    http://www.wilmingtonnc.gov/city_manager/special_projects/wilmington_convention_center.aspx

    What difference does a P&L for it mean to you, IF YOU AREN’T PAYING FOR IT. Well, unless you live an a hotel room…in which case, I’m sorry for my last comment.

  • Guest111 says:

    There are a few things I really would like to have BUT I don’t have the financing for it right now. YOU HAVE TO KNOW WHEN TO SPEND AND WHEN NOT TO. Wilmington is in horrible shape financially and needs a LOT of normal things repaired and replaced. THERE ISN’T ENOUGH MONEY TO DO IT AND WE DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT NEED A BASEBALL STADIUM!!

    AGAIN, I WANT TO SEE THE P & L for the convention center. Why won’t anyone publish it???

  • Guest1948 says:

    If these folks want a minor league baseball team/stadium here, let them finance it and reap the profits! I don’t want it coming out of tax payer’s pockets!

  • Straight Shooter says:

    So what are of you crying about, most of you No’s No’s pay no property taxes anyway. So move aside, (Get Out Of The Way) and let the folks that do not mind contributing for a better Wilmington, help make it happen!

  • Mky Jct voter says:

    If the ballpark is so good for Wilmington and the area and such a good investment I certainly hope all these business people will put their money where their support is and pay for it. They can reap the rewards and not cost the taxpayers. We can’t take any or taxes. Our water bills keep going up, the streets are falling apart, the bridges are overloaded, etc. If the ballpark does all they say it will the bridges, streets and sewers will be even more overloaded. Most people won’t have the extra money to pay for tickets and snacks for attending the ballpark. The ones who want it so much should pay for it.

  • portcity321 says:

    Will this coalition be making a sizable investment in the ballpark or are they just trying to help spend taxpayer dollars?

  • Guest111 says:

    You hit the nail on the head! These folks must want a New York around here. Maybe that’s the problem. They are all yankees and want what they want when they want it and the way they want it. Makes you sick, doesn’t it?

  • Guest757 says:

    I feel that Mr. Hundley has made a huge mistake.. He was quoted saying ” Unfortunately in Wilmington, we have several groups who want to just say no to any possible city project.”

    He has to realize that the people of Wilmington can’t afford any new taxes. So, if it means not getting a ballpark so be it. As you seen on TV we have people in the area that can’t pay their normal bills.. IE water. This is not the right time for the city to be spending what it doesn’t have..

    If this group of businesses want to have a ballpark in Wilmington why don’t they pay for it?

    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
    How much is your company going to be paying ???

  • convention says:

    Not afford new taxes? NOONE has said taxes WILL be increased for this project, merely a statment saying it is a possibility, one of MANY possibilties.

    As for what the city can or can not afford, are you privy to the inner workings of the city budget? Are you equipped with the proper information to make these assumptions, or just listening to the venom spewed by local conservative radio? Before you ask, yes I am a conservative, but I refuse to be corralled into the hatred that comes across the airwaves in this town.

  • Guest111 says:

    Mr. Hundley, we are seeing the true you today with the feds suing you for mismanagement of monies at Cooperative Bank. Now, here you are wanting to handle more money. I think maybe your time of “handling monies” might be coming to an end. Hey Coalition. . aren’t you proud to have such great folks in your leadership? Cracks me up. What a bunch of arrogant, greedy, underhanded, self centered people. Go Away.

  • Peyton Garrett says:

    It is good to see there are Business owners and professionals in support of the proposed baseball stadium and the benefits it could bring to downtown or where ever it may be located. If it is completed within the framework of the Atlanta Braves requirements, the sky is the limit for the development of class A office space, residential and other commercial development not only downtown but across the river as well. This will not be a snap your finger and it appears. It will take years if not decades. Will it be worth the investment? You bet it will.

  • Guest1946 says:

    I really don’t think that anyone “across the river” cares for any of Wilmington’s spillover.

  • Guesttax101 says:

    about 2 million each, from this group, and by golly you got youselfs a ballpark. hope it works for you. but I don’t want to invest or have any part of my tax dollars invested.

  • Guest111 says:

    I’m not involved in any airwaves or anyone who works with them. I do know that sewer and water pipes are failing, I do know the city streets are crumbling and I could go on and on. You sound so one sided I’m thinking you might be Saffo. . using an alias. Do you have the inside scoop on the city’s finances? Where do you get your info? What makes you so damn sure you are the one who is right and we are all dumb***** who can’t get from Market St. to College Road? Hmmmm??

  • Repoman says:

    I mean, I know he was the lead singer for Herman’s Hermits, but what does he have to do with Wilmington?

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    …..Saffo having to give you advance notice when he turns a corner, to keep from breaking your neck?

  • PR4192 says:

    What I want to know, what I really want to know is what kind of hotdogs are they going to serve. Nathan’s Or Hebrew Franks?

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