Ballpark may go on November ballot, Mandalay says private financing is now off the table

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Submitted: Wed, 06/20/2012 - 4:00am
Updated: Thu, 08/02/2012 - 5:01pm

WILMINGTON,NC (WWAY) — The City continues to slide closer to building a ballpark and bringing a minor league team to the Port City. Wilmington City Council voted Tuesday night to continue negotiations with Mandalay Baseball and the Atlanta braves for another six months.

Council members also discussed putting a ballpark bond referendum on the November ballot. However, with the new information from their consultant, National Sports Services, it still leaves the question: is this a good idea for Wilmington?

“I think baseball can be successful in Wilmington,” said Brian Parker, who gave the presentation for NSS. “I can’t say that it’s the right investment for Wilmington.”

NSS brought its proposal to council, estimating a cost of $36 million to $42 million to build a baseball stadium in the Port City.

According to the StarNews, the private development team, Flywheel/Trask, that had proposed being a partner in the stadium project backed out last week.

Afterwards, the city decided to consider putting the ballpark plan to a public vote in November, asking voters if they would help pay for the stadium. Council would vote on it during a later meeting.

In a press release response, Mandalay Baseball announced that private financing is now off the table.

“We now feel that since this issue is going to a referendum it creates too much uncertainty for private investment teams. Also, private financing costs were a bit too high when compared to the rates the city could get for municipal bonds, making private financing too big a challenge,” said Rich Neumann, President of Baseball Development for Mandalay Baseball.

The economic impact of the stadium is estimated to create about 300 jobs per year in the city and county, but definite details are a long way from being complete.

“This is a starting point,” Parker said. “By no means would this necessarily be the ending point. If it is, it would be shocking if this is exactly how it broke down.”

If council approves the bond referendum it would go on the November ballot alongside the controversial ordinance against a tax-payer funded ballpark.

Council also voted 6-1 approving $355,000 for further feasibility study, outside legal council and financial advice. Councilwoman Laura Padgett voted against the funding.

In their hypothetical funding scenario, National’s report had the city contributing around $17 million and “other governmental aid” paying $8.2 million. New Hanover County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield says he and another commissioner have spoken with city leaders several times about re-entering ballpark negotiations, however County Manager Bruce Shell says the county is not actively discussing their involvement.

National’s report has downtown as the prime location for a baseball stadium.


  • ranger1 says:

    Something sounds a little fishy if private financing is “off the table.” I have a feeling there’s a little back room under the table politics going on here.

  • 1981duke says:

    This is a community changer,so embrace it.
    It will impact present and future generations for many years to come.
    Counting down to April 2014 opening day in the Port City.

  • 1981duke says:

    Would be proud

  • 1981duke says:

    Attendance all over is up

  • 1981duke says:

    You are way off,as on each issue City Council is voting 7-0 or 6-1 on this issue.
    Do not make it sound like it is close,it is not.
    This is clearly being studied,the facts are why the vote “for” is almost unaminous.

  • Guest11111111111 says:

    Are you all serious..”PRIVATE FINANCING” is off the table, meaning the team of flywheel/trask is no longer involved since the stadium is going to referendum.

    Private money is still involved though.

    In order to put the stadium on the ballot, they’ll have to announce ACTUAL financing details and cost per household.

  • Guest 101 says:

    Baseball is as boring as watching paint dry. Beyond that this is just another case of corporate welfare funded by the local taxpayers.

    The only way to put a stop to this nonsense is to vote out as many of these “public servents” as possible.

  • taxpayer says:

    he’d make a great auctioneer. In the blink of an eye, he asked for a motion, a second to the motion, and a vote. Before anyone knew it, we taxpayers had just coughed-up another $355,000 for baseball.

    Last night’s presentation was a well choreographed dog & pony show. The only thing missing was Kevin O’taxya Grady and Margaret Haynes dressed in tutu’s doing a dance in front of the crowd.

    What a circus!

  • Vog46 says:

    Calls for the city to build it with the city accepting all costs for construction. The city maintains it and Mandalay kicks in $25K per year for capital improvements. Mandalay gets ALL ticket revenue but the city is allowed NO MORE than a $0.50 per ticket tax. Mandalay pays $400,000 lease with no codicils addressing lease termination. In other words – if it doesn’t work out Atlanta pulls a Baltimore Colts – and leaves in the middle of the night. No warning, no nothing.
    And get this – if the stadium is not finished by march 20, 2012 the city pays THEM all costs associated with playing at another field AND a $50,000 per day fine.
    Thats right folks – $50,000 per day!
    Give them the stadium, give them the tickets revenue, give the the ad revenues, give them the concession revenues, do not force them into a 5 year guarantee AND we pay them if its late being built!!!
    Where are all you supporters of this? Weren’t you there when the lease was released?

    I dislike Ben McCoy and Mr. Fulton. I don’t like their brand of politics. But in THIS case if all of the above are true (and it appears as though they are) then I tip my hat to those two for stopping the city from rushing head long into this travesty of an agreement. I also thank Council woman Padgett for voting against this.
    Shame on the rest of them !!! This is so one sided it’s nauseating, and to think that O’Grady et al wanted to rush into this makes me think that the inmates are running the asylum here.

    Best Regards

  • GuestOrator says:

    According to the latest, the city will build and own the stadium.
    Part of the “revenue” that the fantasy land NSS report shows is from property taxes collect on the stadium.
    If the city owns the stadium and rents/leases it to the Braves, who exactly are we collecting this property tax from?

  • 1981duke says:

    You obviously are not poised in”corporate finance”.

  • Guest CommonTater says:

    This is a very one sided deal and bad for the city and its taxpayers.

    This is just the kind of deal saffo and the board of clowns will swallow hook line and sinker. Wilmington is getting what it voted for.. pure idiocy!

  • Vog46 says:

    Oh this is “rich”. Other media outlets are reporting a proposed lease agreement which give s more info:

    “The city would be responsible for all costs for the design and construction of the stadium. The city, Braves and Mandalay would agree on all decisions relating to construction of the stadium, with the city having final veto authority over any decisions that would increase the cost of the project beyond the agreed upon budget.”

    So the government (City and NH County) pay for the entire thing $39M

    “Mandalay and the Braves are proposing a 20-year lease term with an option to extend for 10 years. Mandalay and the Braves would pay the city a combined $400,000 a year in rent along with an extra $25,000 per year for the first 10 years and $75,000 per year for the remaining years which would go toward the Capital Maintenance fund.”

    So $4.25 M for first 10 years ($400,000 PLUS $25K per year X 10)
    1.5M for the remaining 20 years ($75K X 20)
    Or $6.75M

    “Mandalay and the Braves would keep all revenue from ticket sales at baseball games with the city having an option to charge a maximum 50 cent tax on each ticket sold at the games. The city would also be able to keep any ticket sales from non-baseball events at the stadium. Mandalay and the Braves would also keep all money from club, box and private suites, with the city having rights to use one suite for whatever they want.

    The city would not have any rights to sell ads, signage or sponsorship at the stadium, although they would have the right to sell and display electronic ads on the stadium scoreboard at non-baseball events.”

    Wait – $0.50 a ticket? Assume 2,000 per game that’s $1,000 X 70 home games or $70,000 per year.

    No other baseball revenues for the city. No advertising revenues….NOTHING.

    Look I hate to say this, but this is a bad deal, a VERY bad deal. You baseball supporters should feel like you’ve been betrayed, because you (we) have been.

    This is far different than $1 per ticket after the first 300,000 sold.
    And there’s also no guarantees for either party so Atlanta could pull the plug without remorse, saddling us with an empty stadium on very valuable down town property.
    This is a very one sided deal and bad for the city and its taxpayers.

    Best Regards

  • 1981duke says:

    They do care,that why the process is so long.
    A core issue,and Mayor and City Council doing a marvelous job.

  • GuestMan. says:

    I wrote on here when the Council said they were exploring the possibility of minor league baseball in Wilmington that it was a done deal. You might as well buy your season tickets because Saffo & Co. don’t care what we want. Batter up!

  • 1981duke says:

    It is not even close,so you are saying only 1 city council member cares about the future of our city?

  • Huber says:

    Its absolutely mind boggleing as to why this run-away spending train is allowed to continue. Obviously now – Most of these Council Members can’t even ballance their own check book at home — let alone the City/Counties.

    For an expense between: 35-42 million dollars, The County may get to hire on 300 “additional” people needed to maintain this Minor league Ball Park. NO MENTION of how this affects The Private Sector in Wilmington & New Hanover County is there — other than a huge tax hike. Maybe the revenues brought in will only help pay for these 300 new employees saleries ?

    New Hanover & The City of Wilmington have a full fledged City Manager & staff and a full fledged Legal Team on payroll w/staff to research any funding or projects needed for the City Council. YET — its far easier to blow a: ‘paultry” $355,000 for a further feasibility study needed – and already have a legal team and staffed City Managers Office available to do just that. Money Wilmington does NOT have to waste !

    Flywheel/Trask Developement company backs out of this deal — as they know its a: Loosing Proposition from its conception. FTD is a Private Business — not affiliated with the local govt. — but Bruce Shell proceeds on in defiance in a high gear — blowing big money thats not there.

    Bruce Shell was obviously: NOT a Math Major when in school — otherwise He would have tabled this hair brained idea of haveing a Minor League Ball Park years ago – and we are stuck with him !

    We owe a lot to: Mrs. Laura Padgett who was the only person to vote NO — and we need more women just like her to represent the best interests for the folks of Wilmington & New Hanover County. We will also elect a better qualified City County serve N.H.county in 2012

  • Rick Wilson says:

    Bruce Shell is not the one trying to force feed this project on the tax payers. The Mayor and City Council are. As of now, the county will not be required to fund this, only the city residents. Everyone in the city has the ability to stop this. Do not listen to the lies, and vote no on this welfare for billionaire project. When the cost of the stadium, cost overruns, interest, loan insurance, and the cost of road/bridge improvetments necessary to support this stadium are added up, the cost will be well over 100 million dollars. In reality it will probably be over 200 million dollars. If people will get out and vote, let common sense prevail over the lies they will be told, then government over reaching its power can be stopped this time.

  • Guest7969 says:

    leave the county out of it! we aren’t involved in this mess!

  • Guest125432 says:

    “Bruce Shell proceeds on in defiance in a high gear — blowing big money thats not there.

    Bruce Shell was obviously: NOT a Math Major when in school — otherwise He would have tabled this hair brained idea of haveing a Minor League Ball Park years ago – and we are stuck with him !”

    Bruce Shell is the County Manager not the City Manager and he’s retiring this month so you’re not stuck with him. This is a city issue so what does the county have to do with it? I think Shell was an Accounting major, by the way.

  • GuestOrator says:

    That tells you all you need to know about the potential this endeavor has for economic success. If there was truly money to be made here, the private investors would be clamoring to get a piece of the action. Instead, it looks like the unwilling taxpayers of Wilmington will be left holding this ginormous bag of debt.

    I sat through the whole presentation last night and was thoroughly unimpressed with the product NSS sold us and also in the reaction to it by council members. It was painful to witness them being scammed right before my eyes, especially when they are using my money to pay for this farce.

  • 1981duke says:

    So they are all stupid,really.
    Then step-up and show us what you can do!

  • Guest 1969 says:

    Wilmington has a plethora of issues that need the money that this would cost! Why not take care of our home BEFORE we start adding yet even more BLING to it?

    Why can’t the “big wheels” do they job they were hired to do (i.e., taking CARE of Wilmington), instead of trying to run it into bankruptcy? Enough already! Let’s make the most of what we ALREADY have in this beautiful city, NOT bury it with yet ANOTHER albatross – PLEASE!!!

  • bill says:

    this whole thing wreaks of corruption…hopefully city council doesn`t bankrupt us before nov.

  • Vog46 says:

    Is this Mandalay’s true colors coming out or something else?
    Between $36M and $42M I’ll split the difference and call it $39M
    I love baseball but this is way too rich for me and the rewards do not come close to justifying the risk.
    Flywheel Trask was going to provide land and they pulled out.
    The Cameron Family land was deemed unsuitable due to zoning and access restrictions and the Cameron’s did say they did not think that taxpayer dollars should be used. Two very prominent Wilmington families – both out or against the deal.
    Now its squarely on the governments “dime”. I’m glad to see New Hanover County getting involved but this in itself is a double whammy for some taxpayers.
    Back “in the day”, when cities were “flush”, and there was no recession we could not support the Port City Roosters enough. Now in hard times we’re being asked to 100% fund this?
    To Council and Commissioner’s – end this, end it NOW.
    Do NOT spend $400,00 persuing this if there’s no private investments being made.
    When NSS says things like:

    “I think baseball can be successful in Wilmington,” said Brian Parker, who gave the presentation for NSS. “I can’t say that it’s the right investment for Wilmington.”

    It’s time to walk away.
    No make that RUN away
    Best Regards

  • 1981duke says:

    Wrong statements and your”fear” campaign going NO-WHERE.

  • Carol Kramer says:

    What kind of magical thinking are the City Council engaged in if they think that building a baseball stadium downtown will draw people in? How can anyone possibly evaluate these scenarios without knowing the actual site proposals (and who owns them)?
    But, let’s think about what this public-private partnership actually means. The taxpayer will on the hook for AT LEAST $25,000,000 plus interest for what 20 – 30 years? We get to pay back the principle, pay the interest, pay to attend, pay for food and beverage, pay for parking, pay for maintenance, pay for employees, pay for local management, so that the Atlanta Braves can train multi-millionaire ballplayers?
    This is an outrageous con on the taxpayer. We pay and pay and pay and pay so they can play. We do however, get to watch.

    Public-private partnerships are the embodiment of what Mussolini dubbed “corporatism;” that is the “merger of state and corporate power.”

    “Council also voted 6-1 approving $355,000 for further feasibility study, outside legal council and financial advice.” I can’t wait to see which To Big to Fail bankers come to town. I’m guessing JP Morgan…they’re known for this sort of thing.

  • MrT says:

    For all the part time accountants out there performing exhaustive analysis on ticket revenue sharing, let me be first to invite you to take an opportunity to read the complete NSS report. I have and I find it very professional and through. The eleven sections of the report draw one conclusion. Baseball and Wilmington are a good mix! The MSA is sufficient to support an excellent fan base and an excellent return on investment. The potential for additional development around the project is high. The potential to bring the county back into the mix a very real option. The capitol out lay is very reasonable and affordable under several finance options. The food and bar service tax is interesting as is the the revenue bond approach. Each brings in both city residents and those from outside. So many people have requested a vote on the issue and that appears to be the current approach which should calm some nerves.
    Those who have posted comments about how NSS fabricated the content of the report are sad soles with no understanding of the process and the reputation that accompanies the process. You would be better off to keep your intellect in hiding and just vote no.

  • Vog46 says:

    First – lets start with things that are finite.
    Estimated $39M cost of building the stadium
    Borne by taxpayers unless another private entity come forth prior to the vote and even then we may not know how much the private entity will kick in.
    There is no section which requires Atlanta or Mandalay to guarantee a minimum payment to the city should attendance be mis-stated. I would like to have seen Atlanta commit to 5 years of guaranteed $400,000 lease payments regardless of attendance
    We do know that comparable teams/cities they mention are averaging 2% of the metro population for attendance at the game.
    We also know that they estimate 3% of Wilmington metro population to attend each game.
    This is a 50% INCREASE over comparable cities.
    Why the discrepancy?
    NSS does mention “nearby military bases” but that’s over 79 miles from here and Bragg is 90+ miles from here. Yet when they did their demographic studies of comparable cities they used a radius of 35 miles.
    Now if attendance is overstated so are the economic impact revenues. There is also no mention of previous attempts at hosting minor league baseball here in Wilmington and why this report projects so MUCH better attendance than previous teams. The attendance figures they are estimating seem to be almost 8 times greater than the average attendance at a Roosters game. Yet, in order to make this estimate they have to rely on projections, possibilities and bigger demographic areas.
    Now Mr T the report is slick and professionally done and I expected nothing less of NSS.
    But it ignores history and the current status of downtown.
    We are currently on our 4th attempt to get a developer for the nearby convention center hotel – OOOOOPsssss
    The convention center itself is not fully booked (this is not a bad thing because the CC is still in it’s infancy)and will not be fully booked any time within the next 5 years if I remember correctly. The report fails to address this – OOOOOPPPPPsssss

    I’m all for economic development and incentives and love baseball but now is NOT the time to be giving away THIS big an incentive, with no guarantees from the other side.
    Let me put this in every day terms.
    If Mr. McCoy and Mr Fulton were to try to break the lease on their apartments the complex would charge them a lease breaking fee OR make them pay the full contract terms then let them out.
    The deal is too one sided with the city accepting way too much financial risk…….

    Best Regards

  • SurfCityTom says:

    both the proposal and the comments made by the Consultant.

    He very clearly stated this might not be a good investment for the city of Wilmington. He’s hedging his bets; knowing the city could bring a legal action against NSS should the investment not pan out.

    But why the furor? If this is such a sure fire money maker, why haven’t you and Duke, among others, gone out and committed your personal fortunes, borrowing power, and reputations as well as superior business acumen to funding the construction of this albatross?

    Prove us non-believers all wrong on this one.

    You talk the talk; now walk the walk.

  • 1981duke says:

    Ludicrous statement
    Talk about TMZ

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