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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Securing financing for a proposed baseball stadium will no longer fall on Wilmington’s shoulders. Today, the Atlanta Braves and Mandalay Baseball Properties announced the ballpark would be financed and constructed privately. Even so, it will still require an uncertain amount of taxpayer dollars.

“We’ve been able to form a development team with extensive national experience to create a private financed and construction proposal for a new ballpark in Wilmington,” Braves Executive VP for Business Operations Mike Plant.

A privately-financed ballpark means two things: developers could secure a 30-year loan, which would reduce the annual payments, and the city will not take on the construction and financing risks. But this does not mean the private sector will actually cover all the costs. Taxpayers are still on the hook, but for how much?

Raiford Trask, one of the developers who stepped up to the plate to help finance the project, is not sure.

“Really, it’s a math problem, and we haven’t done the math, so it would be really premature for me to say that,” Trask, President of Wilmington’s Trask Land Company said. “It’s gonna have to work. We all know it’s gonna have to work for all parties involved.”

A recent WWAY/Big Talker FM/Civitas Institute poll found 86 percent of Wilmington voters do not want a taxpayer-funded stadium. Mayor Bill Saffo does not know yet how much the private partnership would bring to the table.

“We always want to see more of the private investment go up as opposed to the public investment, but they’re also very clear this is going to be a public private partnership,” Saffo said.

Meanwhile, Rich Neumann with Mandalay Baseball Properties asks opponents to the stadium plan to wait until the proposal is presented to the city.

“Let the city and their advisors vet the proposal, question us, validate it, negotiate, whatever they need to do to protect your interests, and then they’ll have a decision to make,” Neumann said.

The private financing group says it will present its proposal to City Council and city staff in approximately 30 days.

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62 Comments on "Developers working on private financing for ballpark; taxpayer share unclear"

2015 years 10 months ago

Dr. Robert Baade has been studying publicly funded sports teams since 1984. I will not speak for him. But the facts he presents are compelling enough for me to give a brief abstract of his published research: With few exceptions, the taxpayer always gets screwed when funding stadium projects. Period. Watch a youtube video. Read his books and articles on Google Books. Do not drink the Mandalay Kool-Aid. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFr_MlBi7Eg
And when the consultant presents the “Feasibility Study”, the first question should be…..How many Feasibility Studies have you performed that DID NOT recommend a stadium? I guarantee that the answer will be ZERO. I have yet to find a Feasibility Study that came back negative in regards to Minor League Baseball. The protest should be Shoeless, because the FIX is in.
And Starnews, fire your investigative reporters. An 8th grader could gumshoe this topic better than Sebens, Bowen, and McGrath.

Simple one
2015 years 10 months ago

Building the stadium would be a great addition to ILM. If a franchise wants to conduct business in our city we should welcome it. We dont have to pay for it, but we should want “$$” from outside our local area coming to our area. There would be an inital bubble. But the long term benefits, would be a complete downtown skyline, with jobs, a robust youth and middle class. The convention center would have more allure and use. The stadium could be used for public school sporting events. It would create more options with the movie industry, keeping them coming back. If residents pay tax’s to create this in part or whole, tax payers should receive dividends. Companies producing textiles and factory jobs, would be more likely to move to ILM if they had something more to do then stare at the ocean. Although it is a great ocean. The stadium will attract more tourists to our community. Tourists spending there money in our economy = growth, jobs, sustainment. When the economy goes stagnent we just pass around our money to each other and growth is very slow and very long term.

I say build it. Give them a tax break to build it. Ensure they use 75% of NC residents to build it. Higher local companies to support the stadiums needs. Furthermore, a stadium build on the river would help clean up the older leftover industry not used anymore and replace it by building the NEW WILMINGTON on the roots of the old.


2015 years 10 months ago

Sign me up to and my three kids

2015 years 10 months ago

If this were a AAA team then I’d be interested.
Why build this new home for a single A team? All it does it drive out the Sharks and replace it with a marginally better team.

Oh and what happens to the city where they came from, hosed I guess.

2015 years 10 months ago

I’m in support of this project. Those of us who know how projects like this go understand that due to the size of it, the city/taxpayer will handle at least some of the costs.
The bigger picture is the impact that stadiums have. Durham saw close to $900 million dollars of private investment in the area around its ballpark.
If Wilmington is to succeed as a city and move forward it needs to invest in itself.
Convention centers, stadiums, and the like come at a cost BUT are major catalysts for further growth…
There is a new Marriot under construction in downtown Wilmington on the corner of Grace and Second Street. (Jobs!) That is a direct result of the convention center. There is also the Indigo planned as well as the 200+ room Embassy Suites. So those opposed to things before weighing all of the facts shouldn’t complain when they can’t find a job or the unemployment rates rise.


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