Anti-ballpark petition has other teams worried

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Submitted: Fri, 06/01/2012 - 9:02pm
Updated: Mon, 06/04/2012 - 11:13am

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.


  • Peyton Garrett says:

    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.

  • Vog46 says:

    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

  • Guest2020 says:

    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?

  • guesty says:

    Titan wants to come here and GE is expanding.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    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.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    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.

  • Vog46 says:

    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

  • Peyton Garrett says:

    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.

  • Guest of out of the ballpark biz says:

    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!

  • 1981duke says:

    In past city has entered into private-public agreements with,

    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.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    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.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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.

  • Mike T says:

    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 says:

    but could it endanger your entitlement eligibility?

  • Mike T says:

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

  • Vog46 says:

    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

  • 1981duke says:

    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.

  • Guest Redneck Across the River says:

    Taxpayers have made it clear that they do not want to pay for a ball park. What part of this do the “leaders” not understand? Why can’t they accept the will of the people and move on?

  • 1981duke says:

    Why was not petition clear?

  • Guestin says:

    Because the government believes in “we the government” not “we the people” should be on the constitution. Example the convention center we the people voted no and cry baby saffo had a tantrum like a five year old and then got the ok to build it. The government is taking our voice away in running our country.

  • Guest2769 says:

    “Will of the people”?

    Did you ask each and every resident of their view on the stadium? Your comment implies that everyone in Wilmington is opposed to the stadium and they are not.

    The Law is a strange organism. Alter the DNA and the outcome is unpredictable until litigated. The petition may have an undesired ripple effect with the other teams and no one knows for sure until it goes to court.

    Typical of how certain groups pushed their agenda on everyone else. I think, I choose… do not do it for me.

  • bighead says:

    The polls taken clearly relieve that public funding of the new stadium is not that unpopular, in fact probably acceptable if it’s not that big of a tax increase.

    I’ll bet that if it cost the average home owner (which the political climbers that started this thing ARE NOT) a few buck a month is a no-brainer to build it.

    The incompetence of the organizers that drafted their petition may have potentially inadvertently damaged other sports teams in the city or more than likely guaranteed the failure of their cause. These guys are total amateurs looking for pats on their backs.

    Know this, this whole thing was started by two guys who were miserable failures at running for City Council and both don’t even pay property taxes because they rent, and that says a lot about their cause. Win or lose, neither guy will experience any tax change because they don’t even pay the tax that they are fighting about.

    Obviously they are trying to manipulate the public for their own political gains. There is no other possible explanation as they have zero skin in the game with this issue.

    I own a house and am disgusted by the actions of these renters telling the owners of property in this city how the future of Wilmington should be planed.

  • NCNative says:

    Why can’t they accept the will of the people? Simple. They don’t give a crap about the people. City leaders are really only toddlers storming about and laying claim to whatever they want because they believe that they are entitled. Besides…they are mythical god-like creatures who do no wrong and who know far better about what’s best for you than even you do. Thank goodness we have them to shove down our throa- uhhhh I mean tell us what is best for us. We’re just the feeble-minded weaklings that only matter one day out of the year – Election Day.

    City leaders are only concerned about what’s best for us, bless their little hearts. Remember when that German cruise ship docked in Wilmington a couple of years ago? They were here for one day only, and they added over $400,000 to our economy. The cruise line wanted to continue coming here, but city leaders declined that request. Why? Because why would we want to earn free money when we can be forced to PAY a RIDICULOUS AMOUNT OF MONEY for a ballpark we neither need nor want??

    Give thanks to city leaders. Thank them for insisting that paying millions of dollars for something very few people want is far better than doing nothing at all when cruise ship tourists visit our city and give us hundreds of thousands of dollars.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    The residents of Wilmington BEG to be ignored by electing these same stooges over and over again. As long as the mayor and city council know they are dealing with a 17% voter turnout, they don’t have to listen to anyone.

    As Plato said, “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”

  • Guest CommonTater says:

    The “leaders” have Monkey Junction Syndrome. Earth to leaders! We do not want our tax money used for this boondoggle!

    Why should they care what the voters think when the possibility of having a plaque with their name on it displayed at the front entrance of this thing? In your face voters! The taxpayers need to learn the goose step with these idiots….

  • SurfCityTom says:

    sympathy for the Sharks. They pay NO salaries to players who are all college students and need to retain their status. Granted they do have certain expenses such as bus transportation & uniform cleaning.

    But the biggest expense for any athletic team is player salaries; and they have none.

    If necessary, kick ticket prices up a buck or two should field rent rise.

    That’s called business. And in these economic times, everyone should be stepping up to the plate to help the City provide needed services.

    As much as I enjoy going to see the Sharks, it’s still a want and not a necessity. And I don’t think that many fans will drop out of ticket prices rise modestly.

  • Spectator says:

    Garbage. The city “leaders” clearly are trying any and all tactics they can dream up to scare voters away from this petition. This isn’t going to affect the Sharks, Hammerheads, or anybody else at Legion Stadium.

    The taxpayers of Wilmington don’t want to pay for a stadium that the politicians seem to have their hearts set on. Sorry, guys, we learned a little something from that laughable so-called convention center you’ve hung around our necks. You aren’t just going to sail right through this one.

  • Guest7969 says:

    here goes…so it’s simple. THERE SHOULD BE NO TAXPAYER MONEY…from the local to the federal…used to fund sports….PERIOD…stand on your own or fall…either is fine with me as long as I don’t have to fund it!

  • 1981duke says:

    Why was not petition drafted professionally,all that energy and this is kind of embarrassing.

  • Ben McCoy says:

    Again WWAY – you’re giving credibility to this nonsense, and I don’t get it. It doesn’t come across as you’re just reporting what’s out there – but rather stating these concerns as fact.

    If the city is on the hook for debt with Legion, then this petition cannot affect that. How could an ordinance nullify city debt obligations? If that was true, cities all over the country would pass ordinances to get rid of their debt.

    This is fear-mongering plain and simple. The petition language clearly intends for a new stadium that would be constructed with tax dollars.

    With the city council controlling the message of the say with this nonsense, they are avoiding all heat from the media about the fact that they ignored us and wouldn’t work with us, and that they have refused to allow the people to vote on this issue. It is because of their belligerence with this issue, thinking they know better than the people that they serve, that they didn’t ever promise for it to go to a referendum. If they had, there would have never been any reason for our petition.

  • WilmingtonBizOwner says:

    So long, and thanks for all the fish.

    It is clear they are included in this poorly-worded travesty of a petition. Everyone I know who signed it is furious.

    They know now they’ve been duped by a very small group of failed talking heads pushing a radical agenda of No Growth Ever. When those fields sit empty make sure you remember who forced this upon us, Ben McCoy, Josh Fulton, and the Americans For Prosperity.

    McCoy-Fulton 2012
    Setting Wilmington Back 50 Years

  • Vog46 says:

    Here’s a thought on the business of minor league baseball from Forbes:

    Interesting tidbits:
    Only 1 A level team made the list at #20
    Not one team affiliated with the Atlanta Braves made the list
    Forbes had wonderful things to say about Mandalay (they do run a good organization)
    But this caught my eye:
    “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. Says Vataha.”

    By their own admission, NSS says attendance won’t reach that level.
    Poor team (Atlanta)
    One poor location
    Tepid response from city residents about paying?
    If I were the Council I’d back out of this deal rather than risk the cost of the special vote which may turn against them anyway.
    This is a bad deal
    Best Regards

  • SomeDayItWillRain says:


    Thanks for that interesting link on the Forbes analysis. What stood out to me in that analysis was the following:

    “We focused our study on the 160 minor league teams in either class AAA, AA or A (excluding rookie leagues) that, although they are independently owned and operated, are directly affiliated with a Major League Baseball team.”

    You pointed out that not one Braves team is in the list, but failed to mention all the Braves minor league teams are owned by the Braves. They are not “independently owned and operated”. This is why no Braves team was listed.
    (The lone exception is the team the Braves are attempting to move to Wilmington. It is my understanding that they now own a portion of this club and are looking for a permanent home. Once found, 100% of their entire minor league affiliates will be owned.)

  • WX_Guy says:

    The argument that the petition will adversely affect the Sharks or Hammerheads amounts to nothing more than another red herring. Q: Who sets the rental rate for Legion Stadium? A: The city of Wilmington.

    So they can set it to whatever they want. Eliminate the shenanigans of setting a high rate and then discounting it for some. Simply set the rate for everyone to whatever the Sharks and Hammerheads are currently paying (obviously acceptable) and eliminate the subsidy or discount. The Sharks and the Hammerheads pay the same rent that they pay now.

    Set an equal, uniform rate for everyone. No subsidy. No discount. No problem.

  • 1981duke says:

    Not if petition becomes law,the city will have limited powers here.
    It will be a totally cost element for those wanting to rent this venues as a professional team,if that is allowed at all.
    If this becomes Law the City will have to address prices and terms much differently.for sure.

  • 1981duke says:

    Vog wii understand,read the facts.
    The Braves run”impeccable’ minor-league Franchises,why people do not want that SUCCESS here in unknown.
    A ‘NAYSAYER” he and chronies are..

  • Vog46 says:

    The point here is not who owns or is affiliated with the team.
    I had originally thought that only one A team made the list, but I was mistaken 2 did.
    Dayton OH has a metro population of 861,000 (actual city pop was 141,000)
    The Kane County Cougars are in Genva Il pop of ONLY 26,000 but they are a suburb of Chicago (enough said).
    Based upon our population and the surrounding area I don’t see how we can support an A level minor league team – especially since we couldn’t support the Roosters who were AA level.

    Now THEY know this. The only way they make their 18% is with lower loan payments. If they have to pay full price they won’t build it because they’d lose that 18%.
    Now they’re in a quandry.
    If they can fund it 100% and still make a profit they’ve lied to council about their profit margin.
    If they pull out then Mandalay is tacitly admitting the NSS survey was trumped up.

    Best Regards

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