28 Comments for this article

Tags: , , , , ,


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?

  • Guesttenheimer

    You’re way off-queue Gramps! My note was sarcasm about this mothers support of her little boys “fanatical” desire at baseball. With all of the high school and college teams playing about, she must be spending a bloody fortune on tickets for him. Being “fanatical” about anything shows a severe lack of balance, weakness and the inability to be rational.

    No, I don’t own any river-swill property and I’m not affiliated with any developers…at all. I don’t like the methodology used by Saffo that started this whole mess to begin with where he clearly stated that taxpayer funds would be necessary for the stadium venture. My personal belief is that semi-pro baseball will as in the past, be a loser here and will not be supported nearly as strongly as the “leaders” try to make it appear. We DEFINITELY do not need another marina downtown. All I see is a lot of pushing to sell property that has been on the market for a long time, to the taxpayers who do not want it OR the responsibility of its outcome.

    Are we JiGGy now?

  • Gramps1935

    Ohhhh….. I just changed my mind. In fact lets build two stadiums, and have two teams. One for the little boy, and one for the little girl. Something tells me you might be related to one of these developers.

  • Gramps1935

    And I couldn’t agree with you more, Guest. It was her(the mother) I was referring to, as maybe being related in my sarcasm. (Almost as good as yours.)

  • jj

    Well, then again let Carolina League Team pay for what they want and stop spending tax payers money on junk.

  • jj

    Hi Heather,

    Then with 4 high schools, American Legion, UNC-W and the Sharks in town, you most be broke buying tickets.

  • Heather Gore

    The two children in this picture are my son Ayden & daughter, Kerigan. We are BASEBALL FANATICS!!!!*** AYDEN EATS, SLEEPS, & BREATHS BASEBALL!!! Our family would be one of the first to PURCHASE SEASON TICKETS!!!!

  • Guest7969

    ..you’d be one of the few…then yud be one of the ones selling your tickets for 2.00 on eBay or stubhub…

  • Guesttenheimer

    …that comment is. I personally despise anything practiced in fanaticism. Moderation in everything, except moderation itself.

  • PublicAvenger

    I guess they’ll have to buy alot of popcorn to make up for the 90% empty seats we will have just after 1 season. Look at the Port City Roosters, 15 years ago. In the middle of their 2nd season, you could sit for free, like most people, in a 3/4’s empty stadium. Can you name the best pitcher on the Roosters ? Neither can anyone else.

  • Guest2020

    Then you be the one to donate the money to build the stadium.

  • alex

    they had teams in the past big failure ,this town is not a sports town ,why r we competing with Myrtle beach ,we got crappy facilities ,and a crappy mayor ,just say no to this basebore insanity

  • Guest28403

    Is to create a natural rivalry for the Carolina League Team in Myrtle Beach (the Pelicans). They try to keep 2 teams within driving distance of each other in order to help keep attendance and what not up. Lynchburg for years has had a natural rivalry with the Salem Red Sox about an hour from where they are now but there is discussion there maybe some affiliate movements. With the loss of the Indians from Kinston all the way to Zebulon its made it harder to keep rivalrys going and with MB and ILM the natural rivalry would work very well.

  • Guest 1948

    How do we say no unless they put it to vote by the citizens which I see little hope of happening. I think everyone feels as I do that it’s a “done deal.” I can’t help but feel Saffo and Co. stand to make a killing off this and now it looks like the Cameron’s are in it as well. Hey – there ain’t no free lunch — somebody is going to pay and it’s most likely the tax payers of New Hanover Co.

  • Guest2020

    I am a huge Braves fan and I love those fellas that went to the rally, but unless they are going to put their money up, then what they have to say means nothing. The only voices that matter in this fight are those of the taxpaying citizens of Wilmington, North Carolina.

  • Guest 1948



    First off there were more than “Dozens of People” that came out today. Secondly, If this argument were for whether tax dollars should be spent on the Less than Successful Art Gallery that I am sure our vocal minority have endorsed, I wonder how many tax paying citizens of Wilmington and New Hanover County would object. I must say that most of the objections that I have heard or read seem to be coming from a place not of fiscal responsibility but from people that just like to hear the sound of their own voice or from people that would rather see tax dollars spent according to their own agenda. I personally think that our right to vocalize our discontent with our city, state and federal leaders is what makes our country great. So from someone that has lived here for the last 40 years, please think about what is good for the city of Wilmington in the County of New Hanover and not your personal agenda or vendetta against a political party or official. I do support the stadium even if it means that I have to pay more taxes.

  • KGeorge

    I like baseball as well as the next person, but, I feel if a multi-million dollar baseball franchise wants to put a minor league team in our town, then they should foot the bill for the stadium. THEY are the ones that will reap the benefits. A few points I’d like to know before MY tax money gets spent on anything is:
    1. How does it benefit the community as a whole.
    2. Who is going to make the profits from this venture? The community or the team?
    And the biggest and probably most important question…
    3. Can we use that proposed tax money for a better project such as much needed raises for county employees, which would put the money back into the community.

    Having said all this, my sentiment is that we should let the Baseball Organization pay for the stadium construction, and use these proposed tax dollars for a better purpose. We too often think of luxuries before necessities…..

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday

    Be it baseball or arts, we are witnessing the effects of tax money being blown on anything and everything for the past fifty years: Massive debt, municipalities across the country close to bankruptcy, a substantial percentage of the population totally dependent upon government for their basic existence, and a cottage industry of hawkers and enablers who suck the governmnet coffers dry advocating for the societal leeches.

    Societal leeches is a very broad category. The guy wearing a suit and tie while advocating the use of tax monies to subsidize a baseball stadium is no better than the woman living on TANF in public housing and spitting out Medicaid recipients. They are both moochers.

    Do not forget this basic, common sense rule: When the developers come hat-in-hand to the givernment, you KNOW there is a high degree of risk involved. They want to risk a lot of YOUR money, and a little of theirs. If it was a sure thing, if there were fantastic money to be made, the wouldn’t want to share the profits with anyone.

  • Not With My Money

    Once again we have to explain simple things to the media with simple little words. Those of us who are against a TAXPAYER FUNDED baseball stadium ARE NOT AGAINST BASEBALL!!! Why on earth would we go out and protest it? We would be perfectly happy for you to build yourselves a stadium.
    And if the folks at this rally are so enthused about putting this stadium in Wilmington, today would have been an EXCELLENT opportunity for them to kick off a fund raising drive, with the paid-for-by- Mandalay baseball players they trucked ceremonially each dropping in a check for a few grand each.
    You know, it’s funny, the only thing anyone is against here is taxpayer funding, yet I haven’t heard any of the folks like Port City Baseball breathing a word about trying to do any fund raising on their own. They’re too busy trying to rationalize using all the rest of us’s money instead.

  • Guest54234534

    From my understanding, the guys from The Privately Funded Baseball Alliance are not against having a ball team, they just don’t want our tax dollars going to pay for it.

    If baseball stadiums are so profitable, then how come these old pros aren’t chipping in to help pay for it?

    I don’t even like watching baseball so why should I help pay for it? And when did it become the job of the city to use tax payer money to finance private businesses?

    I own a business – so is the city going to give me money too?

  • ChefnSurf

    Looks like the Atlanta braves took this play right off of the page of a Roman emperor’s playbook. Emperors and their patrician cronies use to disdainfully refer to this kind of stuff as “bread and circuses for the masses.” I guess some things never change.

  • A perspective from the “Economic and Business Development Expert” brought to Wilmington with taxpayer money ($100K)by the Chamber for the ‘Cape Fear Future’ project: http://www.creativeclass.com/​_v3/ ​creative_class/2007/12/27/the-stadium-ruse/.

  • ma_lashley

    To be sure it will not be Nixon, McMichael, Smith or Treadway covering any losses from the proposed baseball stadium or paying the mortgage when the team leaves town. Once you build it, they’ll be gone!

  • PublicAvenger

    Amen to that. If this baseball stadium is such a great idea, let them play at UNC-W, or Legion Stadium, for 3 seasons, before wasting $50 million on a stadium.

    Let the Braves, and the support groups, underwrite the expenses. Which is a only a fraction of the $50 million dollar stadium.

    Let them use the “huge profiets”, these supporters keep promising, from the first 2 years to build the stadium. They know this will be a flop. Just like the Port City Roosters.

    Let me see, a $50 million dollar project. Just follow the money, I want to know who’s going to profiet from this sham.

  • Guest7969

    WILMIMGTON taxpayers! Leave me out of it!

  • Guest2020

    A vote would be pointless to this City Council. The citizens of Wilmington voted at least twice against the convention center.


Related News