WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — At closer look, the petition against a taxpayer-funded ballpark is raising some eyebrows. City leaders say the petition, could affect established area teams, and those teams are worried, too.
“It’s one of those things where I think it’s kind of sketchy, the language that’s in there,” Andrew Aguilar, General Manager of the Wilmington Sharks baseball team, said.
The petition against a taxpayer-funded ballpark is not necessarily a home run with other area teams. Bill Rudisill, majority owner of the Hammerheads soccer team says he does not want a taxpayer-funded ballpark. Still, he is worried if the petition becomes law, it could have some bad effects on his team.
“I don’t want to react negatively, but just sort of let it play out and see where it goes, but, yes, if it’s a lot of money, it could possibly put us out of business,” Rudisill said.
Organizers of that petition say this was never part of their plan. They say city leaders are bringing up the other teams as a scare tactic.
“We reached out to the city attorney. What do we have to do for a grandfather clause? What do we have to do for some of these things that will clearly keep that off the radar; the Legion Stadiums and all that sort of stuff off the radar? They wouldn’t talk to us, so what could we do?” petition organizer Ben McCoy said.
Interim City Attorney Bill Wolak said he did not help petitioners, because it would be unethical to when the city had a different position to their overall message. Regardless, this petition and the language in it cannot be changed, because they have been turned in. Now it’s a waiting game to see if the signatures are verified.
“Until it actually has been validated and stuff, that’s when I think we’ll take a look and see what direction we need to go in,” Aguilar said.
Both the Hammerheads and Sharks say they use limited funds from the city, but both play at city-owned facilities.
Councilman Kevin O’Grady says this petition could affect their contracts at the Legion Sports Complex.