Development team lays out ballpark project to city council, site still a mystery

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Submitted: Wed, 05/16/2012 - 3:29am
Updated: Thu, 05/17/2012 - 12:25am

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The private development team looking to bring a ballpark and minor league baseball team to the Port City gave a presentation to Wilmington City Council Tuesday night, laying out the details of development, ownership and costs.

The proposed stadium owners and development team would be Flywheel, LLC and the Trask Land Company,Inc. Both Mandalay Baseball Properties and the Atlanta Braves would co-own the team. The city would end up getting a share of the revenues from Flywheel/Trask, which would include sales and consumption taxes.

“Also the flow of property taxes on the facility that would be on the private payrolls and part of the revenues put towards the city of Wilmington,” said Chet Roach of Brailsford & Dunlavey.

The ballpark is projected to cost between $33 million and $36 million, not including the cost of land. The development team suggested taking out a 30-year loan, paying for about one-third of the debt. The city would then be obligated to pay off the rest.

The economic impact from the ballpark is an estimated $62.7 million and more than 600 jobs.

“The concessionaire specifically will spend $1.5 million with other local businesses on supplies, goods, services,” Roach said. “It’s a direct connection into the community.”

The ballpark site, however, is being kept hush-hush.

“As a lot of those negotiations are ongoing, the owners, council, has just advised us to keep those details confidential at this point,” Roach says.

Following the presentation, council members didn’t have any questions, and only Laura Padgett and Kevin 0’Grady made a few comments.

National Sports Services, the company the city hired as a consultant, will review the proposal. Wilmington City Council is expected to vote June 19 on how to move forward.

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22 Comments on "Development team lays out ballpark project to city council, site still a mystery"

Mike T
2015 years 8 months ago

I don’t know what your background is but it couldn’t be in real business.
The approach on this project is and has been very professional to this point. Unless you have some proof or reason to disprove this fact, why don’t you just hush and let the pros do their job. National Sports will present their analysis on June 15 and we will see if this is Pollyanna or not. If the City of Wilmington needs your help, I’m sure they know where to find you!!

Mike T
2015 years 8 months ago

Since we have so many number crunchers. Why dont we look at this number.
The City of Durham received over 300 million dollars in additional real estate development surrounding their new Ball Park. Using Wilmingtons proposed real property tax estimate for the coming year we can determine about 1.2 million additional annual revenue to the city. Maybe some one out there can give some estimates on increases to the city in sales tax revenue. Another might offer an opinion on Occupancy Taxes revenues. It was recently released that the Brunswick County Jet Port was named the number 10 small community airport in the state of NC. The estimated annual revenue impact by this facility to Brunswick County is 69 million dollars. One might think that a multi use sports complex in one of North Carolinas largest cities might do as well as a rich boys toy storage facility in the back woods of Brunswick County.

2015 years 8 months ago

Excellent way of showing the math SurfCityTom.

The only thing I would question is would they count tickets that are given away – you know there will be tons of prime tickets given to sponsors- will those count as ticket sales. If they don’t count those it would take even longer to reach the 300,000 mark.

2015 years 8 months ago

Mike, Surf has pinned this one. Instead of impugning Tom, why don’t you and the other advocates show where his math is indeed wrong?

2015 years 8 months ago

got to you? Why not cloud the issues?

Take each facet of the proposal; and do the math. This horn of plenty full of money for the city just is not there.

And clearly, it must be hard for you to face the light of reality.

The proposal clearly specifies the city gets no ticket revenue until ticket # 300,001 has been sold.

It’s in print; it’s right there. How can you deny it?

My background is in the world of business. In the private sector, one does not have public revenue to draw on.

I did not call the plan Pollyanna. I stated very clearly you wee either Pollyanna or on someone’s payroll. Maybe some reading comprehension classes would help.

Me, I say build it in the poorest section of Wilmington where it will have an immediate impact in promoting improvement in the surrounding neighborhood. Look to Durahm, Greensboro, or Winston-Salem and where they located stadiums. That overpriced water front parcel of land will prove to be an albatross.

2015 years 8 months ago

Mike, you miss an important point comparing the Brunswick County Jetport to this proposed Wilmington stadium. The principal source of money was federal funding to complete the runway expansion. This did not involve an increase to local taxpayers.

The only capacity for government in ANY venture is its reasonable authority to tax. Government never belongs in business with any operating authority. In this spirit, I believe that this state should divest itself of the ABC system and place it into private hands, the only revenue collected being legally imposed taxes.

In this same spirit, the only investment in this baseball stadium venture should be private capital, with investors being able to realize the profits AND fully incurring the risk of loss.

If this baseball stadium deal were truly such a great thing, why aren’t there private investors clamoring to buy shares?

I believe that capitalism works and will continue to work. Surf City Tom is right in his analysis that the city (the taxpayers) stand to receive few benefits. All of us concerned need real numbers, not financial analyst fuzzy math to convince us of the efficacy of this project. Get real, if this project tanks, the taxpayers are going to be left holding the bag.

2015 years 8 months ago

I believe your Freudian slip of “morgue holder” is very apropos. When a public entity enters into a risky partnership with private interests it is a death knell to the tax-paying citizens. We only need to look to Roanoke Rapids as an example and that white elephant they have out there on I-95. Their haste to “bring jobs and revenue” to their city now sits vacant with the citizens paying the mortgage.

And on the subject of mortgages, Trask, et al is only agreeing to fund 1/3 of the debt. That leaves the city funding the other 2/3 and I am not aware of any bank out there that is going to loan 100% of the money to a private group that is only agreeing to make 33% of the payment. Oh yes, you can guarantee that the city will be on the note for that mortgage. The bank will insist on it just as much as a parent co-signs for a child’s car. Then when that child declares bankruptcy the parent (in this example the city and thereby the taxpayers) will be compelled to cover all the payments. Don’t kid yourself or others.

You also need an education on the purpose of occupancy tax and a math lesson on what the property tax rate on “surrounding development associated with the stadium” would actually work out to. Just as an example from last night’s meeting; an additional 3 cent/$100 of valuation of the ENTIRE CITY was asked for just to cover a modest $950K increase over last year’s budget. Think about creating a special taxing district just to fund a luxury item and PPD will move back out of downtown just like they did in the mid 90’s. That’s real economic impact right there.

A 100% private venture where the only responsible parties for the note are individual or corporate investors is the appropriate path.

The City of Wilmington and Port City Baseball should not be in such a head-long rush to spend other peoples’ monies. Let the people that will be footing the bill have the real say so. IF the CoW wants to invest the public’s money, then the public becomes a shareholder in that venture. As shareholders in any corporation are entitled to vote their say in a company’s direction, so should the the real “shareholders” of this ballpark. Council, put it to a referendum.

2015 years 8 months ago

its such a good deal don’t have a problem with it being ONE HUNDRED PERCENT privately owned and paid for then. The city WILL loose tax revenue on this…PERIOD! SO WHAT the city owns a dead stadium in 30 years that they have to TEAR DOWN…and the taxpayers will pay for that as well. NO THANK YOU..NOT ONE PENNY in tax dollars should go to this IDIOTIC idea!

2015 years 8 months ago

Mike, As long as NONE of my money has to go to support the Baseball Team, go for it. But if one penny of mine is used to bring them here, then the city should fund every PRIVATE business. We as taxpayers should not fund PRIVATELY held business.

2015 years 8 months ago

You’ve captured the essence of the deal. This is very attractive structure for city. The overwhelming share of the benefits will go to the public and frankly dwarf the returns to the private investors by as much as 5X in most scenarios in my view.

Let’s not forget that this is a meaningful infrastructure in its own right….our economic infrastructure. Those cities without targeted investment to maintain or enhance their competitive position -v- other areas competing with us as a place to live, work and play, face decay and inevitable decline.

2015 years 8 months ago

Well, Saffo. . that’s your opinion and it is not the opinion of those of us who do know how to budget, balance monies, etc. You don’t spend that kind of dollars on a possible venture. Please shut up.

2015 years 8 months ago

can you read or even do simple math? Without addressing all facets of the proposal, let’s just look at 1.

You note the city will receive a portion of ticket sales.

The proposal calls for the city to get $1.00 per ticket sold after the first 300,000 tickets have been sold. They get nothing on the first 300,000 tickets sold.

Let’s go further. The stadium will seat about 5,600 fans. Assuming 65 home games, that equals about 364,000 tickets sold; that is if every single game is a sell out.

Put another way, the city gets nothing from ticket sales until 300,000 tickets have sold.

So assuming all games are sold out, the city would reap about $64,000 from ticket sales.

Need I go on?

Are you on the payroll?

Your previous posts have shown you’re either Pollyanna o have a vested interest.

Which is it.

2015 years 8 months ago

again you make a very poor effort at building support for a ball diamond.

You compare apples and watermelons. There’s a big difference between a federally funded project in Brunswick County and a public funded project in downtown Wilmington along the river.

Mike you’re doing more damage than harm to the proponets of the ballpark with your half truths and number clouding.

You want to build support?

Take the proposal; review each item; and crunch the numbers. Show specifically, how much revenue will flow to the City.

And remember, the proposal shows no ticket revenue to the City until ticket number 300,001 has been sold. What are they proposing? A stadium which will seat 5,500 to 6,000. How many home games? 65 perhaps? And remember double headers will only count as a 1 ticket sale per admission. So a best guess might be $64,000 to $90,000 in ticket proceeds to the City. Can you in all honesty, with a straight face, and looking people in the eye, claim all home games will sell out?

Now Mikey, I’ve done the math on one aspect of the proposal.

Your turn. Take one other aspect of the proposal; crunch the numbers using optomistic estimates. What do you come up with?

I was in Winston-Salem this past week. I attended a W-S Dash game on Wednesday. Personally, it was a great way to unwind after a day at work. Care to guess attendance? Try 1500 for a mid-week game. And this stadium is located adjacent to a major highway. No matter where they put a stadium in Wilmington, you’re still going to have traffic issues which will require additional police to control traffic flow.

Mikey, if you’re such a baseball and business guru, how many Sharks games did you attend last year?

2015 years 8 months ago

take the blinders off.

The Durham stadium was built in an area of blighted properties, properties in desperate need of rehabilitation.

The stadium construction provided the stimulus for private investors, note the word private, who came into the area and either upgraded their properties or purchased properties for rehabilitation.

Of course, that had a tremendous impact on property values and collected property taxes.

Even you can’nt honestly state the proposed river front site is in a blighted area.

Point 2 on the Durham project. It was built adjacent to I-40 with easy access on and off the interstate.

That’s not the case, no matter where it might be built in the city.

Frankly Mike, you’re doing more harm then good for the ballpark proponents with your consistent comparison of apples to watermelons.

But keep up the good work. You may be the clinching influence which puts this public funded folly to rest.

If it’s such a good deal, there should be a wealth of private investors ready to sign on. Where’s the line? Have you signed on yet?

2015 years 8 months ago

You’re dreaming if you think people pay double digit prices for baseball tickets even in major league Atlanta. Don’t delude yourself or us.

2015 years 8 months ago

Hank, If you look at the link you sent, those tickets are UPPER level for a game that starts in a few hours. That’s pretty standard for day-of tickets through stubhub. Season ticket holders that can’t make the game just take whatever they can get.

2015 years 8 months ago

Put a pig in a dress and you still have … a pig in a dress. Bottom line is the deal is to get the city to put up public tax money and take the risks so that private companies can reap the profits.

Let’s put it in terms that even city council can understand: Do not spend tax money on a baseball stadium.

Mike T
2015 years 8 months ago

You like so many have fallen once again into the half story reporting of WWAY. As usual they only report enough to incite a riot by leaving half the meat on the bone. You may not be aware that the city is not the morgue holder in this project. Trask Land Company is the guarantor in the deal. Mandalay and the Braves supply about one third of the funds on the stadium cost. The city receives tax revenue,portion of ticket sales and concession revenue sharing. The city agrees to apply this revenue toward the payments of the note for Trask. Should the venture fall short of needed revenue to pay the note then property tax from surrounding development associated with the stadium could be used for any short fall, if any. Expanded Occupancy Tax is also a revenue stream.
The City gets full ownership of the Stadium in 30 years. The Trask Co. gets the Stadium and the debt should the venture fail.
Besty this proposal is the first pass to be presented. It can only get better. National Sports Services now has something to chew on. They will develop their numbers and work with all the parties toward a workable solution for the right revenue numbers. The City of Wilmington seems to have escaped most if not all of the risk and the project developers would have never put this on the table if they were not very confident of making good money. Hundreds of thousands will enjoy this high quality entertainment and spend millions of dollars in Wilmington.
Batter UP April 2014

The City is doing a very good job in their exploration process.
Batter up April 2014!!!

2015 years 8 months ago

The bottom line is everything is being based on what could be. So lets look at What is. Fact is They don’t have the money to do the project. Fact is the city will have to pay 2/3 of the loan. That will be a given exspence that the city will have to pay period. That means more expences. Why? If someone wants a team here then it should be 100% private owned. Why should 6 people make a decision for thousands of people to put more responciblity on our current tax dept. I bet if the council say ok well do it. But for the thirty years any profits that is made goes to the city till the loan is paid. How come we dont see this. Is it not fair since we the taxpayers are flipping 2/3 of the bill. Our local taxes are going up. Why are they not going down. If the cities six council members and not the thousand of residents wants to do private ventures why not make money and have it applied to there operational and improvement to services to reduce the tax burden on the taxpayer who they are elected to serve. Our City Counsil need to think of how to reduce our taxes, not taking on projects to increase it cause we all know prices goes up and they will need more money to sustain current services. Which in turn mean the will be crying like babies they need more taxes and anex more area to increase the tax revenue.

At the end of the day we need to change our spending habits. If you dont have the money on hand. Then you dont need it. Our city-county-state-federal leaders need to adopt this. Instead of planing on what you going to get, plan on what is currenly on hand in the bank. If I dont have the money in the bank to buy food guess what, I dont get to buy it. TBH why base budget on next years tax revenue. They should base bugets on last years collections and what is currently in the bank. This way they would never over spend and it would give them a year to collect taxes owed. Is this how we are not paid on a two week rotation. You are always a week or two in the hole when one works for a company?

2015 years 8 months ago

The ball park site is hush hush. Typical. When you aren’t forthcoming and honest you have something to hide.. and me thinks this is a prime example. We obviously are going to be mislead on this matter. Surprise surprise.

2015 years 8 months ago

We are nowhere through the global economic downturn. It’s incredibly risky for the city to accept any financial responsibility at this time. In the best of economic times, taxpayer funded stadiums have failed to produce promised jobs or revenue.

Let the city wade chest-deep into this swamp and if the economy takes another downturn, not too far-fetched, if you keep up with the global economy, they’ll be sitting on an even bigger mountain of debt with no way to pay it back beyond raising taxes again.