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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Former Braves baseball players are rallying in support of bringing a minor league team to Wilmington.

Columbus County native Otis Nixon, Greg McMichael, Zane Smith and Jeff Treadway all came out to the pro ballpark rally in front of City Hall Saturday. The Wilmington Ballpark Coalition, Port City Baseball and the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce teamed up to put on the rally.

Dozens came out, donned in their baseball fanfare, to hear from Nixon and others in favor of bringing a stadium to the Port City.

“It’s very important. You got a lot of job opportunities, you got scouts that will be coming in, Major League Baseball players,” Nixon said. “You know, I played for 20-some years. We didn’t have any minor league teams around. Now we have an opportunity right now to get a team right down here in Wilmington, and I think we should take advantage of it.”

Nixon said he knows many people are against a tax-funded stadium, but he also believes the revenue a ballpark could bring would make up for it.

The rally was geared toward kids, and some even got to throw the “first pitch” to the former MLB players.

Despite the support showed at the rally, there are still many folks who are crying foul when it comes to a tax-funded stadium or stadium in general. However, no supporters of The Privately Funded Baseball Alliance or the group started by Ben McCoy were at Saturday’s rally.

Tune in to WWAY NewsChannel 3 Sunday night at 11 to hear more from Nixon and others at the rally.

Comment on this Story

  • Richard Chinn

    I don’t play baseball and I have never watched a full game. I am NOT opposed to baseball being located in Wilmington BUT…

    One of the things that distresses me about the “Baseball Plan” that is being worked on? Taxpayers like myself, are going to be forced to spend the money we earn to pay for someone else’s entertainment.

    I have been to the public meetings so far. I want to get the facts where they originate. Thus far, I am unimpressed with the way this deal is going down. It is obvious that poor decisions have already been made. I have also checked out Mandalay’s and Atlanta Braves information on their websites. Additionally I have looked at the websites of the communities where they (Mandalay) have teams located. Unfortunately, when you start looking at the facts, it leads to more doubt and more questions.

    Government has it’s place and while I agree that government should be involved in business development activities, I strongly disagree with government being involved in funding , operating or otherwise maintaining a PRIVATE ENTERPRISE VENTURE.

    What the heck are members of the city council thinking? Now they are putting another slant on the project because Mandalay and the Atlanta Braves know it’s unlikely to “fly” as a baseball stadium. The want the media to advertise it as a “Family Entertainment Complex”. I took the survey that the Star News has online. I hope the options they asked about are not the best that can be dreamed up: bingo night, movie night, etc. REALLY? ARE YOU GUYS SERIOUS? When is the last time you saw Bingo night draw a huge crowd? If this idea was a good one, we would have Bingo parlors all over, I personally don’t know where even one is!

    So they say 32.5 million to 35.7 million to build the stadium without the land or anything else. No one was able to tell us how much this thing would really cost even though they have done this several times before, what a poor bunch of professionals this is or maybe they just don’t want the Wilmington taxpayers to know the real truth about the cost.

    I sat in at the city council meeting when Mandalay made their presentation and as a small business person I was able to guesstimate from what they were saying that the real cost, which includes having to do upgrades to whatever the surrounding area needs to support the 6200 seat stadium, is likely to be about 68 -72 MILLION dollars. That doesn’t include the additional cost of city support services over the 30 year life which I’m sure will include the need for added police, fire and other human resources that are hidden costs of having the stadium. There are others but i think you get the idea. Let me just say that if I am wrong about the cost figures I have stated it is because the facts of the project are being given in a VERY sketchy manner, if at all, so I have to base my figures on what I have been able to gleen from Mandalay.

    They told us they would pay 10 million over 30 years and that their estimate of revenues for Wilmington from the stadium were about 62 million dollars. According to the math this does not add up to be a good deal for Wilmington.

    On top of all that, it is still a private enterprise operation and who will be receiving all the income from whatever revenue is generated? Well, Mandalay, The Atlanta Braves, and the companies of their choice who provide the support services like concessions, parking, etc. Sadly, if it does extremely well, it appears that Wilmington can expect to receive 10 million over 30 years (350,000 a year) and if it does poorly the Wilmington taxpayer will saddled with the debt and the maintenance for 30 YEARS!!!!!

    My parting rhetorical comment is this: I have a small business that is beneficial for members of the Wilmington community. If the Wilmington City Council votes to force taxpayers to pay for this project, can I go to the city council and get some tax money to support my private enterprise business? I promise it won’t cost the taxpayers anywhere near as much as this baseball idea, it will continue to serve members of the Wilmington community in a positive way, and the bulk of all the revenue our business generates will stay right here in Wilmington instead of going to other communities at the taxpayers expense! Now that’s a great idea :-)

  • GuestDivided&Conquered

    What a great plan! Private profits, socialized (taxpayer redeemed) losses. When will there (ok, I’m dreaming) be a referendum on this?

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