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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The City of Wilmington received a petition today with more than 4,000 signatures. If verified, it will force the city to either adopt an initiative blocking tax money for a ballpark or let voters decide. The move has city leaders fired up.

“The proponents of this, failed politicians that they were, are now going to force the city to spend money to approve this very ill-conceived petition,” Councilman Kevin O’Grady said.

Wilmington City Council members say they are concerned with the broad language in the petition against tax payer funding of a ballpark.

Regardless of their feelings, organizers submitted about the signatures Thursday that will throw a wrench in the ballpark process.

The group that headed up the effort says they just want what’s best for Wilmington and its residents.

“I think that we win in a big way,” organizer Joshua Fulton said. “Eighty-percent of the people in Wilmington don’t want their tax dollars to go up to fund this project, so we’re going to win.”

Members of council say the language of that petition not only affects the new ballpark but also affects other sports teams in the Port City.

“The Sharks and the Hammerheads are not paying the full rate (to rent city stadiums),” Mayor Bill Saffo said. “We subsidize some of those services. We’ll have to take a look at that if that petition is put on the ballot and is passed by the citizens of this community.”

The petition says no city monies shall be used to fund any multi-use sports stadiums for professional sports or other events. O’Grady thinks many of those people who signed the petition did not understand the implications of it.

“When you’re driven by ideology, which is what this is, you make mistakes, and they made a big mistake here; a mistake which, if the citizens buy it, will affect the future of this city,” O’Grady said.

The next step is for the Board of Elections to verify the signatures.

Mandalay Baseball, which would manage the ballpark, says it will wait on verification before deciding what to do.

Comment on this Story

  • SurfCityTom

    One of the staunch supporters for public funding, 1981Duke or whatever his identity of the day is, used an average attendance of 5,000 during the first season to blow up projected sales tax revenue to the $10 Million range.

    From Today’s Star News, which included comments from the former Vice Mayor of Lynchburg who was in town.

    First among his comments — “… do not depend on tourism to support the team…”

    From the preliminary report presented by the consultant: “…Preliminary findings by National show a year one attendance for a Wilmington stadium projected at 217,600 and about 176,800 by year five…”

    217600 equates to an average attendance of 3,108 persons. 5 years later, 176,800 equates to 2525 average attendance per game.

    That'[s a far cry from Duke’s informed and well researched projections.

    The ball is still in his court. Show all of us where we err with more than hot air spoutings.

  • Guest2020

    Why should they bother putting it on the ballot? They put the convention center on the ballot twice and the voters voted against it both times. It is obvious that the council doesn’t care on iota what the voters want.

    They only people that truly stand to gain by this are the same ones who gained by building the convention center–the developers, the companies who win the contracts and the members of the city council who get the kickbacks.

  • SurfCityTom

    has anyone taken the time to look at the Lynchburg team website?

    Earlier, I had noted the probable expense for a family of 4 to attend a game; and was scoffed at.

    Look at what Lynchburg charges:

    General Admission Seat — $8 = $32 for a family of 4

    or Upgrade to Reserved Seats — $9 = $36 for a family of 4

    or go whole hog to Box Seats — $11 = $44 for a family of 4

    Hot Dogs — $4 = $16 for a family of 4 assuming no one has a Jonathan Barfield appetite.

    Cokes or bottled water — $3 = $12 for a family of 4 assuming it is not a hot day.

    Does anyone think the costs will be less in Wilmington? Likely not.

    So, for a family of 4, we would be looking at $60 to $72 plus parking.

    And then, some proponents would have us believe, after dropping this type of change, that the family of 4 would migrate to a local restaurant or bar for further food and beverages.

    Remember too, a couple of the proponents predict there will be $10 million in additional tax revenue which means $125,000,000 in additional sales revenue from this venture.

    I just don’t see a vacationing family, from out of the area, which has a minor league team to support back home, coming off the beach; dropping $60 plus for the ball game; and then waltzing to a surrounding restaurant or bar, which will spring up once construction begins on the ball park, and dropping another $60 plus for further chow or liquid libation.

    One of the proponents predicted great business booming for the hotel industry which would help fuel this $10 million in additional tax revenue. That’s as a direct result of the ball park. Does anyone see that? Does anyone think folks will stay in a downtown hotel rather thn return to the Beach? Does anyone really think folks will stay downtown rather than return home to Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover, or Pender Counties? So much for that argument.

    But, I’ll play the devil’s advocate. George Steinbrenner set up an LLC to purchase the Yankees for $10 million; and that included Yankee Stadium. Most people did not realize he had “silent” partner/investors. It is reported the Steinbrenner heirs are looking at the sale of the team for something in the neighborhood of $2 Billion. A great rate of return for the investors.

    Perhaps Mandalay can lead the initiative by setting up an LLC for stadium investors who will flock to pledge their wealth to help fund the construction of the stadium. If some of these proponents think this is such a good deal, here’s the chance. I would think, with enough support by Devil & Mike T among others, they could have all the money they will need within 30 days or so. Right?

    Ball’s in your court boys.

  • Guest CommonTater


  • SurfCityTom

    just for the record, what has the attendance been over the past couple of years in Lynchburg, a town with no distractions or tourist interests; a town which is a good drive from Roanoke, Danville, or Charlottesville?

    2011: total paid attendance was 169,367; an average of 2,420

    2010: total paid attendance was 152,161; an average of 2,174

    2009: total paid attendance was 164,328; an average of 2,348

    A couple of points; they do have double headers; those count as 1 ticket sale. The above numbers may be inflated slightly.

    How does Myrtle Beach, to our south, do?

    2011: total paid attendance was 213,200; an average of 3,046

    2010: total paid attendance was 223,176; an average of 3,188

    2009: total paid attendance was 238,287; an average of 3,403

    Of note, one of the big proponents for the stadium, 1981Devil, states very firmly, attendance will average around 5,000 the first season; and continue at that level, with no decline but rather a possible increase.

    Take you choice of teams. Average attendance fluctuated with peaks and valleys each of the past three years.

    When the consultant presents his report, watch the attendance number presented as a break even point.

    Of further note: what will tickets cost? I posted the current scale for Lynchburg. How do they sell further south in Myrtle Beach?

    General Admission — $8 – the same as Lynchburg; family of 4 = $32

    Reserved Seats — $11 – higher than Lynchburg; family of 4 = $44

    Box Seats — $13- higher than Lynchburg; family of 4 = $52

    They do have “all you can eat” seats @ $25 per seat; no beer included; you get an $8 seat and all the fast food you can gorge down

    Remember those numbers when they try to convince you this will be reasonably priced family entertainment. And add parking. Don’t forget, too, some of the proponents predict hundreds of millions of dollars in new sales which will yield $10 to $11 million in additional tax revenue for the city.

    But is it really additional tax revenue if sales activity is diverted from other retail businesses to the ball park?

    And where are these hotels, restaurants, and retail stores going to be located? What’s the occupancy rate of existing hotels now, if you back out conventions and group bookings? Anyone had trouble getting a table at Ruth’s Chris or Roy’s Riverboat landing? I haven’t; and that’s on Saturday evening, the busiest night of the week.

    Watch for the smoke and mirros when the consultant presents the vaunted report.

  • Guest111


  • ChefnSurf

    … and if someone doesn’t put a cork on it soon the whole country will go down the toilet.

    Bad schools, bad roads? Fix ’em by spending the money on those type of things instead a shiney new toy!

    Wilmington’s fearless (that’s actually pronounced clueless) “leaders” will never be capable of seeing that until it’s too late. Apparently, neither will you.

  • Guest1250

    Are you stupid or just acting stupid?

  • Mike T

    i wish i could be a productive member of society. but in the meantime build a ballpark so i’ll have somewhere to hang out at

  • Guestb

    Can’t any attorneys comment on the exact meaning of this petition and its effects? Seems like we are all playing lawyer. Any attorneys want to weigh in?

  • 1981duke


    “The Sharks and the Hammerheads are not paying the full rate (to rent city stadiums),” Mayor Bill Saffo said. “We subsidize some of those services. We’ll have to take a look at that if that petition is put on the ballot and is passed by the citizens of this community.”


    DIRECT subsidy,violates petition language

  • OtherGuest

    Spoken like a true American. The founding fathers would be proud!



  • Unintended Consequence

    Looks to me like not only no Hammerheads or Sharks but New Hanover High School needs a new place to play as well…..the implications of this are very unfortunate for all…..thanks to Mr. McCoy

  • Local

    If the Braves want a stadium in Wilmington, all they have to do is cut their Second Baseman. Its that simple.

    Dan Uggla-Atlanta Braves
    2nd Base
    5 yr/$62,000,000

    If not my family will have to pay $318 for this stadium that i cannot afford tickets to.

  • WHO CARES if the city leaders are fired up?!?!?

  • M291

    We are not a democracy! We are a representative republic.

    During this countries founding, our political leaders knew that democracy means mob rule; where 51% of the people would exploit the 49%. The strong faction would dominate the weak! If we were a democracy many things would be different: we probably would still have slavery, women would likely not be part of the political process, the rich would pay all the taxes (they are less than 5%).

    We most certainly democratically elect our representatives. Once elected we hope they use THEIR judgment, not simply be public opinion poll takers. If that were the case, we could have a machine simply tally the public opinion results and make a decision.

    So the will of the people may influence our representative’s opinion, but not control it. I don’t have time to get into the weeds on these issues. I must judge both the character and intelligence of my representative, encourage my neighbor to do the same, cast my vote then to some degree trust that person to act in my best interest. All the while staying informed, and (maybe one day) limiting their term to combat complacency and corruption!

  • 1981duke

    Not about baseball,about economic impact and new jobs so if you do not like this,what else do you have to offer to transfoem and improve the City and Area economy?
    Do we need some more ugly strip plaza’s?

  • Old Money Lady

    This petition is disgusting. Who do you people think you are? I am so sick of this “citizen” crap. Why don’t you people shut up and let the people who have built this city for 100 years decide what we should do. It makes no sense that a bunch of working class ruffians should have as much say as the people who own this city- we have the most to lose for gods sake! You should all be arrested and this petition should be torn up! How horrible!

  • 1981duke

    Throwing more $$$$ for education is not the answer.You know not one high school in our area/county made the top 1000,and not one local high school made the state Top 25.

  • 1981duke

    He won at a 42% margin,not his fault he had no quality competition is it?

  • Guestwantstosign

    I’m not a city resident (yet…I could be annexed anytime probably) but I am in the County. Am I eligible to sign the petition? I didn’t even know there was one to sign, just like I didn’t know about a poll on the City website. I’m not uninformed either so don’t go criticizing me. I just want to know if I’m eligible to sign and if I can still sign?

  • 1981duke


  • Guest3130

    Small town, bad schools, bad roads, backward small-thinking people, growth-killers . . . folks, it’s 2012 (not 1957), you can’t put the genie back in the bottle.

  • Guest22

    The “Big Mistake” was electing Saffo and the City Council.

  • Willard

    A number of years ago the City of Wilmington and New Hanover County held a press conference at the Wilmington International Airport announcing they agreed to put a $35.5 million dollar parks and greenspace bond referendum on the ballot for that following election ballot. Now the City of Wilmington seems determined to tell everyone it’s ok, they’ll pay through the nose with taxpayer dollars to hire a sports firm to loosely research an over $30 million dollar taxpayer funded baseball stadium that might be able to support other large venue entertainment events (questionable without valid research). Fact is, the parks bond was on the ballot and approved by voters. So why is the City reluctant to put this issue on the ballot for voters to consider. After all, it’s the voters 30 or 40 million that’s on the line. They are the all important shareholders of the “business” the leaders call the “City of Wilmington”.

  • Gary Vincent O’Malley

    “The proponents of this, failed politicians that they were, are now going to force the city to spend money to approve this very ill-conceived petition,” Councilman Kevin O’Grady said.

    The city has the choice to offer this as a referendum for this “Demcracy” they always flaunt in our faces to work. They could put it on the ballet themselves. I’m ashamed that a man with the name if an Irishman would stoop so low.

    What’s wrong Your Demcracy O’Grady when it doesn’t coincide with the your vision of the way things “should be”? The city councill “knows”better? Public input is starting to be an “inconvenience” and then show yourself a fool by referencing your oppenents that way. These are the words of an arrogant bully.

    We are to trust our council and just sit down and shut up,as we did with the Council’s Convention Center, Parking (eye-sore, sour smelling) Structures, Flower Gardens, Infrastructure fiasco and each is losing millions? You mean THAT city council and county commissioners? You mean those?

    Oh please! Enough of the spin O’Grady.

    You’re blarney is beginning to stink.

    Gary Vincent O’Malley

  • Debra Frezza

    Why is it politicans always think they know what’s best for us. How did we ever raise our children, pay our bills, buy our homes, etc… without their help and worldy knowledge?

  • Guest81

    Having talked about this with reps from the Hammerheads earlier this year, it will be a shame to see them go again. The language of this petition, done in haste, could bid them adieu.

  • OtherGuest

    A quote from the article:

    “When you’re driven by ideology, which is what this is, you make mistakes, and they made a big mistake here; a mistake which, if the citizens buy it, will affect the future of this city,” O’Grady said.

    What is wrong with being driven by ideology? Is it more important for one to be driven by “practical details” at the expense of his/her ideological belief?

    What does Mr. O’Grady believe is a sufficient motive? What is his motive? Would he be willing to explain?

    I guess maybe “if the citizens by it”, then they will be more than pleased if it affects the future of this city.

  • OtherGuest

    A quote from the article:

    “Regardless of their feelings, organizers submitted about the signatures Thursday that will throw a wrench in the ballpark process.”

    Somebody needs to perform the function of editor before the story is printed, so that the reader can understand what is being reported.

  • Spendourmoneywisely

    Having the citizens determine the future of this city doesn’t sound like a big mistake to me Mr. O’Grady; it sounds like democracy! Perhaps the city council should regroup and realize that they are in those fancy leather chairs to serve their constituents. If the citizens don’t want a baseball stadium then it shouldn’t be funded with taxpayer money. Why wouldn’t you want it put to a vote by the people? The people’s opinion should always be your first priority…know why? Because it’s the people’s money!

  • Truthseeker

    Oh no, the citizens in Wilmington want to deny his majesty and council the ability to spend our money the way they want to. I could care less about the Sharks, Hammerheads or any other semi pro team. If not paying full price for use of city resources then that is wrong. It is citizens resources not city council. Idiot council members think they can spend our money in any manner they please. They certainly are not interested in fixing the bumpiest, neglected roads in NC. They will not be happy until we are #1 in taxes paid instead of 3rd. My crystal ball forecast some big problems in elections for these overspending, malicious and so ignorant of citizens desires politicians. Senator Goolsby is a fine example of doing the bidding of his constituents. Our City Council is a fine example of not doing its constituents bidding and they must pay, begone you buffoons.

  • Guest111

    Why do the city leaders have their panties in a wad now? They knew this was coming, it didn’t blind side them. They are just pi**** that the state stopped their forced annexation (which was driven by the citizens) and the petition was finished and sent in to get control of the baseball situation (which was driven by the citizens). I signed it and I was fully aware of what I was doing. The city leaders have gotten so out of control with their spending that something had to be done and it was. Stop overspending of the tax payers money, take care of problems that already exist, like sewer, water pipes, fix the washboard streets around Wilm and take care of business. No more secret meetings months in advance of the public knowing about it. Do the job you were voted in to do. Citizens are tired of being TOLD what’s going to happen around here. It’s time we decide what’s going on around here.

  • Guest333

    Okay, the headlines are totally confusing to me… If city and county leaders are elected by the people, and the people say what they want, then how can they possibly be wrong? Maybe the city leaders need a review of who they work for!

  • Guest CommonTater

    It is way better to put the tax money towards ANYTHING other than baseball! Do you stomp your little feet while you scream about wanting “your” baseball?

    Let the public vote. The council doesn’t have the intestinal fortitude to do the right thing. They have consistently proven they think the voters are idiots and attempt to spoon feed us their vision. I have said before they quit working for the people long ago… what self righteous, self serving idiots they are.

  • Richard Chinn

    I probably sound like a broken record but…

    I have not heard a single person say they were against baseball being located in our city and that includes every single person that I know who signed the petition.

    That said, I signed the petition and I am glad I did. I believe strongly that city council should be representing the best interest of the people that elected them. It is blazingly obvious that this deal is being pushed on the community in order to facilitate Mandalay’s wants and desires to meet a deadline of their need, not ours.

    I believe the Wilmington community should be involved (public vote) in all decisions of this magnitude primarily because of the enormous amount of money required and the length of the commitment. City Council should have set things in motion to bring this to a PUBLIC VOTE without the need for the citizens to draw up a petition to get the right to have a say in this matter. This article states members of the City Council believe this petition is detrimental to future sports opportunities for the future. I don’t believe that is necessarily true but if it is, the City Council needs to take ownership of a good part of the blame for trying to do a deal without considering the very people who would be asked or forced to pay for it. This deal, if it does happen, will commit not only our generation but the next two generations of Wilmingtonians to a significant tax burden. We as a community deserve to have real facts and figures about a project that potentially will cost tax payers 35-65million or more. We should not be asked or expected to rubber stamp what can be thrown together in a mere 2 months to meet Mandalays deadline. (Check out the meeting on the city website that occurred May 29, 2012 and listen to what NSS- National Sports Services said about how condensed their efforts have been required to be!!)
    We live in a democratic society and IF this goes to a vote and the citizens of Wilmington vote that they want this I will do my part to support it. If the voters say we don’t want this, then I am good with that too. YES or NO with a public vote, the community will have had the opportunity that a community minded city council should have provided in the first place…

  • WX_Guy

    Hubris ( /ˈhjuːbrɪs/) means extreme pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one’s own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power.

    Mr. O’Grady, if you can find taxpayer money for the seemingly endless stream of consultants to tell you what you want to hear, surely the approval of a simple petition can’t truly be a burden. It’s easy. Just say “I won’t spend taxpayer money to build a stadium, respecting the vast majority of people who don’t want their taxes spent on a stadium.” See, it was easy. Do you feel better now?

    And Mr. Saffo, please save the crocodile tears for the Sharks that your project would put out of business. Perhaps the rents that the city would charge to rent city stadia are too high, for the unfavored. And why isn’t the rate the same for all? If the rate for all is lowered to the clearly acceptable rate for the Hammerheads and Sharks, then they are no longer subsidized and everyone is treated equally and fairly.

    The taxpayers will not tolerate the hubris as usual. End this folly or put it on the ballot and the taxpayers will end it for you. Either way, let the sunshine in. Sunshine is a very powerful disinfectant.

  • Maybe I’m Naive

    Okay, I’m sorry if this sounds silly to some of you, but why are we going to all of this trouble and money for another baseball stadium?? Have you ever been to a Shark’s game? I have been twice and the attendance was quite low both times. Why would we spend such a chunk of money on something that is not likely to succeed? I say put the money back into the schools- three to four classrooms sharing one teacher’s assistant? It’s ridiculous.ensu

  • GuestWowJustWOW

    It is beyond belief that our city leaders can be so arrogant. They have really become accustomed to having their way with impunity.

    Politicians, hear this, it’s time for you to restrain your spending.

    Surf City Tom is entitled to the credit for this thought… If the deal for this stadium was really so good, why aren’t investors lining up to buy into this project? I’ll hazard the answer, the risk is too high for any investor to take. If this stadium/baseball project were really viable ALL would benefit. Shareowners make a profit and taxes will be paid. This is how capitalism fundamentally works, like it or not.

    Comm. O’Grady, particularly in response to your derisive commentary, get used to the fact that sometimes the political will is against what you may want. Voters exercising their right to petition and call for referendum is one of the foundations of this Republic. Of all the money spent, how can you criticize taxpayers exercising their rights?

    You and the rest of the commission serve to carry out the will of those who elected you. If the will is strong enough things do change.

    Maybe the signers of the petition did understand. How about road improvements, better wages for police and firefighters and many other things that are far more needed than subsidy of minor league baseball and soccer.

    While I’m at it, why are the taxpayers paying the salary for the film commissioner? Let the business interests who benefit (if they really do) from the commissioner’s work support his office.

    Why are the taxpayers paying for TWO development agencies, Wilmington Downtown AND WDI? We all know that these agencies are a closed loop looking out only for the interests of a very limited community of business owners in a very limited area. Let these business owners pay for their own lobbyists and powerbrokers.

    Why are taxpayers paying for membership in the League of Municipalities? This “league” is nothing more than a shill for professional bureaucrats and moneygrabbers.

    How much did the taxpayers get hit with to pay a lawyer to go to court after having been rebuffed that “We the People” in this state will no longer tolerate forced annexation?

    Why did the taxpayers of Wilmington get hit with a bill from a professional lobbyist to attend the General Assembly’s short session?

    This list can go on indefinitely. Comm. O’Grady, welcome to introductory civics… when “We the People” are doing good we are a lot more generous. When we are not doing good, we just need to be convinced that what you as a politician wants to do with our tax dollars makes economic sense. Get it??

  • Guest1111111

    They knew the petition was dangerous…and pressed ahead without an attorney’s advisement.

    Just look at this email from Ben McCoy to the city attorney.

  • taxpayer

    Never have you met a taxpayer’s dollar that you weren’t afraid to spend. Sadly, it takes the citizens that elected you to your illustrious position on City Council, to go the route of a petition to get you and your ilk to listen.

    Now we have Margaret Haynes calling us “haters” because we oppose the use of our tax dollars for a baseball field when roads, streets, and sidewalks are in shambles.

    Yet you say the signers of the petition are making a big mistake. I would disagree with you sir. It is you and your fellow members of Council who are making the mistake by not being forthcoming in your discussions.

    I am ashamed to say I voted for you when you ran for City Council. What you are today versus what you portrayed as a candidate are polar opposites. You are nothing more than a tax & spend liberal who doesn’t give a damn about the majority.

  • 1981duke

    We understand the intent I think,but Language is ill conceived.
    How can a citizen withdraw what was signed unknowingly?
    This can cause tremendous damage to us as a Community.

  • Guesttseug

    ……….I thought your handlers yanked a knot in your tail when you pulled out of the debate on WWAY. Maybe they didn’t pull it tight enough.

  • Observation

    Many cities with such options in their charter chose to help craft the language to prevent what Wilmington is now complaining about. They could have worked with the petition process to ensure that the scope of it only dealt with the stadium in question. They chose instead to ignore it and now they’re complaining about how it might negatively impact them? That shows a degree of hypocrisy and also shows that the city has been less than clear about what they felt would or would not be a good deal for taxpayers.
    They continually talk about what is “best” but never say what that is. Ben and Josh may have upset O’Grady, but O’Grady has been less than forthcoming with any serious questions about almost any aspect of this stadium proposal. What a shame! To date he still hasn’t told us what he thinks would be good for the city on this front.

  • Guest0531

    Oh for Pete’s sake. seriously?

  • Guest111

    Don’t let the leaders buffalo you into some sort of panic. It’s called tactics. . and I must say based on your previous comments, you should understand the political game and be smarter than to fall for this. If this was so serious why haven’t the leaders been yelling at the top of their voice about it??? All I hear about are their secret meetings. It’s a ploy

  • Gary Vincent O’Malley

    There is a danger to the community to have a Demcratic outcome of any major Council expenditure by the vote of the governed? Are we to believe that we are a danger to our own prosperity and with YOU and the city council knowing better?

    Where is the limit if 35 million isn’t?

    I’d say that unless there is public input prior to ANY negotiations, the council should be subject to immediate recall vote.

    Let’s call it like we see it, eh?

    The doorway to prosperity is WITH public input, because WE balance checkbooks in REAL LIFE.

    We are meant to be small experiments in Democracy at this level so that we may pass our best on to Raleigh and DC for their use.

    After repeated failure of past ventures that are already costing us milions + the burden of servicing prior debt, we wish to give city councils or commissioners this much power?

  • SurfCityTom

    the beauty of living in a democracy.

    Need for government leaders to remember they serve the People who elected them and have an obligation to be good stewards.

    As Harry Truman often noted, government can not spend what it does not have.

    I’ve noted previously. The stadium proponents spent too much time personally attacking those with questions or concerns and far too little time supporting the proposed stadium by not providing specific data. You guys were your own worst enemies.

  • Guesttenheimer

    What “can cause tremendouse damage to our community” is city leaders going off on self-serving missions to spend multi-million taxpayer dollars for white elephants for which the taxpayers don’t want to foot the bill. Nobody signed anything unknowingly here, you and the city “leaders” are attempting to instill fear to the citizens by these types of remarks!
    The bottom line here is: The people don’t want it, the people don’t want their hard earned taxdollars to pay for it! The people do not believe a stadium will be a success here (as well as myself). The people realize there are already many places to host “multi-use” activities and know that a 40 million dollar stadium is NOT needed for that. The people realize that another empty slipped marina is not wanted, is not needed and will not be populated with yachts as evidenced by the already existing amount of empty boat slips downtown. The people realize and have witnessd the many efforts over the years where developers have made futile attempts to dump that unwanted riverfront property.
    It’s pitiful shame to see people like yourself and the other “leaders” that refuse to listen to the people of this city and county! You attempt to force your pipe-dream venues on them and use THEIR money to do it! Now, you attempt to use scare tactics?
    Just who do you think you are?

  • Guest 1

    With public sentiment against a taxpayer funded stadium quite strong, why is this proposal being shoved down taxpayer throats. Research on the economic inpact of minor league stadiums has shown that if anything, it hurts local economies long term. If the Braves had such a great situation somewhere else, why do they want to move a team here? Wake up people! I enjoy baseball as much as anyone, but few people go see the Sharks now, why would a new team be any different? If the Braves organization thinks the Port City is so great, then let them step up to the plate and pay for it.

  • SurfCityTom

    how dare the property taxpayers of Wilmington feel they have the right to determine how tax dollars are spent; and whether they should be spent on an ill conceived albatross.

    Here the Mayor was already to use his magic wand and annoint this deal and open the floodgates of tax dollars.

    What next? Is it possible forced annexation will be on the chopping block? Wait, it already has been stymied. And it appears a sufficient number of votes exist to over ride her Majesty’s veto.

    Next Up — voter id verification before you can vote.

  • Guest1313

    Stay up in Surf City Tom, don’t you have enough economic problems of your own? While I don’t agree with millions of taxpayer money being used, your argument is completely off base. The “property taxpayers” absolutely have a say in how their tax dollars are spent, that’s how these leaders were elected. I’ve said from the beginning and I’ll say it until it’s done that this process needs to be played out to see what the final deal would be. It’s changed many times already and you never know what could happen.
    As for the petition, Mr. Fulton has done a disservice to the community by not paying attention to the details of how it was worded. The way it sounds is this could affect more than what he intended and could possibly run teams like the Sharks & Hammerheads out of Wilmington. He failed at his attempt to run for office and it looks like that’s a good thing if he can’t realize how he could potentially be hurting the community as a whole.

  • Guest111

    I’m all for that!!

  • Guest-of-the-day

    The petition might be amenable to modification in its current form, such as grandfathering in any current funding for sports teams, so that what we have now remains unaffected. Obviously the point of the petition is to stop funding this new albatross being forced on the tax payers, not cut funding for current ball teams (unless of course, that’s what the tax payers want) but it looks like the lawyer/politician’s are going to look for certain wordings to exploit and make it look like a non-negotiable “all or nothing” deal…

  • 1981duke

    the petition if done right is a good start,improperly worded no,as what is on petition is what is voted on for “law”.
    The solution is re-drafting,getting new signatures;that is the only way.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday

    “O’Grady thinks many of those people who signed the petition did not understand the implications of it.”

    You pompous windbag!

    The people who signed that petition aren’t stupid. They know quite well what they’re doing and what they want.

  • Brian

    How ironic that people were enticed into signing this ill-conceived document at a Sharks game? I wonder how many of them were advised of the adverse effect this would have on the Sharks and Hammerheads?

    I’m guessing none.

    I can’t say I’m surprised though. This type of obfuscation has sadly been their modus operandi from the start. You get what you deserve when you sign something without understanding the ramifications.

  • OhTheThingsIKnow

    …how these politicians are trying to create practically a panic over this. OH MY GOD, WE’RE DOOMED!!! It’s almost comical. You don’t suppose the council members making the biggest flap about this were going to be getting a little something extra for their support, do you? I mean, Mandalay is a multi-billion dollar business. They’ve got plenty of grease for these small town wheels.

    As for the rest of us, well, all the registered voters in the City of Wilmington will have a chance to vote for or against this. If you don’t vote, or if you aren’t a resident of Wilmington, it’s really no concern of yours anyway. This is a decision that should be made by the people who are directly affected by it.

  • Ben McCoy

    This is the next natural step for the politicians who think they are better than those whom they supposedly serve, to try and create fear in the community against those brazen citizens who dare stand up to their government. We saw this coming from a mile away. Please do not believe this nonsense fear-mongering. This petition will not affect anything except what they want to gift wrap for Mandalay. Ray Charles could have seen this coming.

  • 1981duke

    Using the less fortunate to make your agends look strong?
    He did not draft petitions that most people now wish they never signed.

  • joe T.

    This is good news for the taxpayers; put your foot down and say I am not going to take this anymore. I just read another story about a land investment company offering to donate land for the ball park with strings attached; tax paid infrastructure improvements that will most likely make their surrounding land more valuable and ready for development?

  • Vog46

    I went back and researched where exactly this land is.
    According to the star news its part of a 200 acre tract of land between N23rd St and Kerr Ave on the SOUTH side of MLK.
    OK for you city residents – airport is on the north side.
    When you access MLK from 23rd or coming from the bridge the land is on your right. This would butt the stadium up against the Creekwood neighborhood.

    But even worse than that is the fact that the Camerons sued NC DOT after the proposed Independence Blvd extension (not to be done until after 2020) rendered the land “Useless” because the extension as proposed does not allow for driveway access to the land off of the newly proposed extension.
    This means that “any” development near a stadium there faces severe restrictions. Restaurants, hotels etc all have to overcome this barricade.

    Nice thought by the Cameron family but I believe this location should be eliminated from the proposal.

    Best Regards

  • 1981duke

    Since that format was changed at last minute,and no pre-questions why show up for a set-up.WWAY has posted few pro-comments on Stadium and team and it is VIVIDLY clear the “people in power” there do not want this,so why give them our time,when it will be twisted in a way we are not Happy With? Let them bask,with the people floating improper petitions…….

  • Vog46

    In another story comment Surf City Tom crunched numbers assuming sell outs every game.
    Thats 65 X 6200 = 403,000 seats per season.
    The proposal calls for the city to get $1 per ticket sale after the first 300,000 tickets are sold.
    Given that, lets see a Star News article from May 30:

    “Preliminary findings by National show a year one attendance for a Wilmington stadium projected at 217,600 and about 176,800 by year five.”

    So by their own estimates the city will NOT receive a dime from ticket sales because they won’t exceed 300,000.

    My second concern is that the land offered by the Camerons is on the MLK corridor. Just what nearby restaurants will benefit from this location? If you drive in from I-40 you turn onto MLK before you hit the restaurants. If you come in over the Isabella Homes bridge you bypass downtown. The economic impact will be far less fro this location then it would be for the down town location.
    But no matter what even NSS is looking at less than sell out crowds. Heck at 176,800 per year you’ve got 176,800/65 or 2720 attendees per game.
    This level of attendance, although more plausible does not give me the warm and fuzzy feeling i need to support an expenditure of this size.
    Assuming investors put in a third of the cost the city is still on the hook for $35M to $36M – $12M or $24M. That does NEED to go before the voters.

    But no matter what the biggest economic impact would come from the down town location IMHO, and if NSS figures are realistic then its only 2720 attendees per game. Thats not much of an impact – not for 65 days (home games) per year.

    Best Regards

  • ma_lashley

    Vog, one of the conditions for the land donation is to reopen that right of way increase the land potential for the Cameron’s. It’s a “win-win” deal as it eliminates land purchase from the formula, increases the value of the adjacent property opening it up for development. However, the donation does not decrease the construction budget one cent. The pro-baseball alliance cannot seize upon this as a total victory. The $40 million stadium budget being kicked around never included the cost of land.

    I applaud the Cameron’s for this proposal and as like many of the petition signers, have no issue with baseball, only the prospect of long-term debt to the tax-payers of the city.

  • Vog46

    2720 attendees per game.
    Sounds good -right?
    All those folks spending money downtown before and after the game?
    Think again.
    Are all the attendees adults? Oh heck no – this is family entertainment and great entertainment at that.
    But if all the attendees were families with 2 children that means that half of 2720 or 1360 are adults.
    Would this make them profitable? lets look at the business side of things:

    That article had GLOWING things to say about Mandalay and they REALLY know how to run a club.
    But flip through the slide show about the 20 MOST profitable clubs – notice anything? ONLY 1 A level club is mentioned at #20 And more importantly – not one is affiliated with the Atlanta Braves.
    But here’s an interesting quote from the article:

    “Once MiLB teams with a modern ballpark can get annual attendance up to the 400,000 range, Vataha notes, they can generate significant revenue from sponsors, especially if the team has a modern stadium where luxury suites can be given to sponsors who lavish advertising revenue on the team.”

    By their own testimony before council NSS projected far less than 400,000 attendees yearly.
    Poor affiliated professional team
    Poor attendance forecast
    Residents hesitant about accepting the financial risk

    Sorry, we need to back away from this

    Best Regards

  • Wade Griffis

    it was a big mistake! It was a big mistake for city council to think they could ram this boondogle through.

    Baseball is about as interesting as tiddlewinks.

    If this idea (baseball park} was viable- developers would be jumping all over it.

    The only people jumping all over it are landowners, (Of basicly swampland)–
    people who stand to make money off this.

    I have some ocean front property in Minnesota I would sell real cheap.

  • Vog46

    Oh I know the land was going to be donated one way or another.
    Right now it looks as though (according to a Star News story) that of the $35M Mandalay puts in $12M leaving the city with $23M.
    (There’s no county input – which is far different than whats going on in Charlotte)
    If the city is getting $1/tkt after the first 300,000 are sold annually then the city gets nothing because NSS doesn’t project tkt sales that high in any given year.
    According to the Forbes article advertisers won’t pay as much for “stadium space” given the low attendance figures.

    It’s no wonder the team wants the city to accept most of the risk !
    We’re too small a market and we’re not near any larger metro area.

    I don’t see the attraction the Council has to this. Sure, it’s baseball but to put out that much money we really should put it before the voters.
    This is a $23M crap shoot for 65 games per year with about a thousand paying adults for each game………
    The MLK Parkway land is no good
    The ONLY place that comes close to a good location is down town. But for 65days per year? I’d rather give the land to CFCC and let them build two buildings there to attract hundreds of students (and all those workers) for two semesters PLUS summer classes.
    We get a bigger bang for our buck then
    Best Regards

  • timborocks

    Doesn’t a stadium have to be built? It might take a couple people to run and maintain a ballpark. What exactly does the tax burden breakdown to per person to build a stadium, a couple bucks? Maybe if they built it on a big riverboat it would be more popular. Could it be a natural fit with Screen Gems in town, those actor people love their baseball. I think I have to give the project a 4 thumbs up, I had to borrow my big toes.


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