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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.

Comment on this Story

  • SurfCityTom

    you are so full of hot air, you’re going to float away.

    IN each of the intiatives you refer to, in an effort to drum up support for a dying horse, there were fixed costs to the taxpayers. Whether they sought property tax abeyance, or specific funding assistance, everyone knew from the gitgo what the costs would be to the taxpayers.

    And often, they were tied to a certain level or job creation.

    The stadium offers no fixed limit on how much the taxpayers of Wilmington might be on the hook for.

    Let’s see, after 5 years the team relocates; the LLC which built the stadium folds its tents, and voila, there is no one to pay the property taxes which you and others have used to try to drum up support for this dog.

    Who makes the debt service payments on the stadium? The city tax payers, that’s who.

    In the same scenario, the revenue from ticket sales, concession sales, and parking dries up.

    Oh yeah, what happens to all of those restaurants and hotels which you keep stating will sprout up just as soon as the stadium is approved?

    Keep up the good work. This horse is staggering and you keep loading its back with packs fullabulla.

  • SurfCityTom

    how can you possibly continue to note numbers which are invalid?

    Look at the Lynchburg website. 10 Full time employees, not the 30 to 35 you would have everyone believe.

    Seasonal jobs — how about they would only work 70 days, possibly up to 5 hours each of those days.

    This is not some great job creator.

    On another note, I don’t see any corporation in this equation. Try LLC which is far different. They can walk, at any time, from a 30 year lease. That’s no more of a gaurantee than some pro athlete contracts which tout $100 Million; but then he gets cut or waived or injured and it turns out only a small portion of that was gauranteed.

    You have no credibility. And as others hae noted, you and Mike are the biggest conrtibutors to the proponents’ failure.

  • guesty

    Titan wants to come here and GE is expanding.

  • Guest2020

    I am completely opposed to this stadium being built with taxpayers’ money. However, I think that the petition should have been worded to keep future stadiums from being built with taxpayers’ money. In my opinion the wording of the petition would keep the city from funding Legion Stadium, which I believe is maintained under the city’s parks a rec department. If this is the case, the professional teams who currently use Legion Stadium are not the only ones who will be affected. If the city is not allowed to continue funding for Legion Stadium where will that leave New Hanover High School’s football team for their home games? Where will that leave the other non-professional groups who use the stadium?

  • Vog46

    Duke-
    PPD was given a tax break, and a temporary one at that.
    They built the building with their own money. They don’t provide 30 jobs they provide HUNDREDS of jobs
    Same with GE, Corning, and Verizon.

    In some cases Duke incentives become very acrimonious. I personally don’t have a problem with them when the RETURN is at the level that PPD, Verizon, GE and Corning provide.

    As I’ve said before I love baseball. But to give an incentive of $23M with limited – very limited return is fiscal insanity.

    Will Mandalay agree to 7 years of tax free incentives – with no money contributed towards building the stadium?
    Since you go to the Council meetings PROPOSE IT. Say we want you REAL bad so we’re offering you the same incentives we offer PPD and Verizon – 7 years of property tax free existence.
    I got no problem with that – no money for building just tax breaks

    As I said before – if its economic development you’re arguing then giving the land downtown to the community college for 2 buildings will have far more impact down town than the stadium would.

    Best Regards
    Vog

  • Peyton Garrett

    Duke 1981, How you can even use the five examples you listed is humorous. First of all the county owns the hospital, there is a board that oversees it’s operations. GE is in the county. while there may be some tax incentives to them regarding expansion and employment again this is not a legitimate comparison. Corning? while I know there were some tax incentives about 12-15 years ago during their rapid expansion that was allowed so they would stay here because the plant had been annexed into the city. PPD and Verizon more of the same. Look at who and what they do before you compare companies that employ around 10,000 high paying jobs with the dribble of maybe a 100 median positions. You are wrong.

  • 1981duke

    You are way off in Rationale.
    The braves do have fixed costs as well as variable costs.
    Just like any business,and jobs-

    -30-35 full time
    -100-110 seasonal

    Who else in wishing to come here,sign a 30 year lease>>
    I do not see any corparation stepping up and cominhg here.

  • SurfCityTom

    but could it endanger your entitlement eligibility?

  • Mike T

    I can’t get a job at any of those 5 but I might be able to be hired at the ballpark. I can now count up to orange.

  • SurfCityTom

    we never thought of it that way.

    How foolish of us not to realize the stadium will have the same economic impact as GE or PPD?

    Yup, I can see where possibly 10 full time jobs, with an average salary of under $30,000 and possibly 100 contract labor positions to sell concessions and maintain the grounds for a 70 game season, will have a far more significant impact than anyone in the private sector, business world could possible have anticipated.

    You and Mike are the leaders in building opposition. You use blow hard numbers to try to build support; they very numbers you throw out are drastically below the numbers contained in the Consultant’s preliminary report.

    But you ask, why is the stadium different. Each of the other 5 you mentioned had fixed costs associated with them; and some of the support was state funded.

    The stadium has no fixed cost. And if the consultant’s projectons, which by the way are below your fantasy levels, fall short, the city could be stuck with the whole albatross to support if the team folds and moves south.

  • SurfCityTom

    we never thought of it that way.

    How foolish of us not to realize the stadium will have the same economic impact as GE or PPD?

    Yup, I can see where possibly 10 full time jobs, with an average salary of under $30,000 and possibly 100 contract labor positions to sell concessions and maintain the grounds for a 70 game season, will have a far more significant impact than anyone in the private sector, business world could possible have anticipated.

    You and Mike are the leaders in building opposition. You use blow hard numbers to try to build support; they very numbers you throw out are drastically below the numbers contained in the Consultant’s preliminary report.

    But you ask, why is the stadium different. Each of the other 5 you mentioned had fixed costs associated with them; and some of the support was state funded.

    The stadium has no fixed cost. And if the consultant’s projectons, which by the way are below your fantasy levels, fall short, the city could be stuck with the whole albatross to support if the team folds and moves south.

  • 1981duke

    Vog,
    In past city has entered into private-public agreements with,
    PPD
    GE
    CORNING
    VERIZON
    NHRMC

    All 5 are private-public investments to create Jobs,why is a Stadium to propel the economy different,it is shearly a “business decision: by City,no more-no-less.

  • Guest of out of the ballpark biz

    You can bet that the same people who claim they want smaller gov’t and less gov’t in our lives, teabaggers and others, suddenly want gov’t to get in the sports biz. Make up your mind.

    Here’s the thing: individuals and groups that can afford sports franchises can afford to build their own sports facilities. The supposed minor league team is a franchise of the Atlanta Braves? If they can make salary, they can build a stadium.

    Dear gov’t: stay out of the professional sports biz!

  • Peyton Garrett

    Big Mouth Ben McCoy has done it again, or maybe. While he has rounded up the necessary signees in his quest, he has also put at risk already existing sport enterprises in our city. He throws some of the blame towards the city attorney. Wow! The very entity he disdains. The very branch who governs. Ben McCoy, activist. Ben McCoy, loser. He is not for accountability, just himself and whatever he can do to see himself in the news. All political. Ben McCoy, political wannabe.

  • Vog46

    Apparently the moderators don’t like outside links being posted on their forums as they’ve rejected a couple of posts I’ve attempted to make.
    Forbes did a study awhile back on the profitability of minor league teams and then ranked the top 20.
    Only one A level team made the list. Triple and double AA teams dominated the list. Here’s another quirk – not one team affiliated with the Atlanta Braves made the list, which makes me wonder.
    Forbes also had great things to say about Mandalay saying they ran a good operation.
    But one thing in the article caught my eye about advertising revenue (I will paraphrase) They said that at 400,000 seats per year you can generate additional revenues with stadium advertising. Our attendance is going to be much below that level so I guess thats out of the question (or not AS profitable).
    This makes me think they realize this is a small market and therefore they are trying to pawn off the majority of financial risk to the city for the stadium……..
    Small market –
    Not a top ranked organization from a financial perspective-
    Tepid response from the voters-
    I think Saffo is right – they need to put a lot more skin in the game.

    Best Regards
    Vog

  • Vog46

    I have no problem spending $50+K to put a $39M bond on a referendum to let city residents decide if they are willing to pay for it.
    To the ball park supporters – what are you worried about?
    To the ball park adversaries – what are you worried about?

    Let the voters decide.
    The Council/Mayor can make multi-million dollar decisions about budgets any time they want its their job. This is not a budgetary item and therefore should be decided by the voters.

    BTW – why is there no input from NH County government? The Charlotte stadium has both city and county funding.

    Best Regards
    Vog

  • Mike T

    Come on city, build this thing. I can already smell the hot dogs.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday

    A cursory glance at the posts clearly shows that the ballpark is opposed by the smaller government crowd (such as Ben McCoy) and backed almost exclusively by the left-wing whackos who are big fans of tax-n-spend (like Mikey T.)

  • SurfCityTom

    why not throw some chips on the table and offer to be a minority member of the LLC which will build and operate the albatross?

    You and Devil seem so certain this is a no-brainer, money maker, have you rushed to join the investors who will pleadge their financial well being to build this thing? If it’s such a good deal, think how prosperous you’ll be by year 2.

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