Saffo, Cheatham, Rivenbark refuse to talk baseball, hotel, budget

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Submitted: Sat, 06/23/2012 - 3:54am
Updated: Sun, 06/24/2012 - 2:51am

WILMINGTON,NC (WWAY) — It seems like our city leaders are afraid to talk about the baseball project and where it stands right now.

We thought it would be a good idea if we invited Mayor Bill Saffo and City Manager Sterling Cheatham over for an interview today.

We know that there are a lot of projects on the table right now, and a lot of numbers floating around, and that the people of Wilmington would like a clearer picture of what’s going on with the baseball proposal, the convention center hotel proposal and the new budget.

We talked to Mayor Saffo yesterday and asked him to come over and sit down with us yesterday or today. He said he needed the questions first. We rarely do that, but we told him that because the interview was important to us, we would make an exception. We e-mailed them last night. Today, he wouldn’t answer the request or return a text.

We also extended the same invitation to Cheatham. We were told he was too busy today. He was also too busy yesterday to return a text we sent him and a voice message we left him.

Even more interesting, we invited City Councilman Charlie Rivenbark to do an interview yesterday. He told us he was out of town and couldn’t, but soon afterwards, our General Manager ran into him at Trolly Stop downtown.

We thought it was these guy’s jobs to answer questions from the media. They may not like it and they may be hard questions, but if they’re relevant to the people they serve, they should step up.

Here are the questions we sent to Mayor Saffo last night that he refuses to answer:


1) It’s no secret Wilmington is still in a recession. We’re running at around 10 percent unemployment. The NSS reports that the city spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on says baseball won’t necessarily be the right investment in Wilmington. The only scientific poll done on the issue says a huge majority of residents don’t want to pay tax dollars to build a stadium. Trask/Flywheel pulled its private funding, which now leaves no baseball deal on the table. Mandalay apparently is being difficult to work with – setting unreasonable deadlines – even wanting to fine the city $50,000 A DAY if you agree to the next proposal but don’t get it done in time. Are these the kind of people the city wants to work with? Help us understand why the city continues to explore this project?

2) Did the city ever sit down with the private financiers to work on a compromise?

3) Why do you think Mandalay wrote up a second lease agreement like that? Is that a normal negotiating tactic? Kevin O’Grady said Tuesday night that Mandalay was one of the premier companies to work with. Do you all really feel that way after reading the new lease agreement?

4) Why do you think Rich Neumann now refuses to talk with the media about the project? He was very open with us when this project started.

5) Why do you and the rest of council keep agreeing to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to explore a project the majority of residents say they don’t want?

6) Sterling told you Tuesday night that some of the $355,000 approved would have to go to another feasibility study. You just did a feasibility study. Help us understand why we would need another one? Would you need to rehire NSS to work on more negotiations?

7) Where did the $40,000 to get the McCoy/Fulton proposition on the November ballot come from. The Board of Elections Director told us it would cost less than $1,000. Did anyone from the city call the Board of Elections to confirm the number? Why didn’t you question the amount Tuesday night?

8) Where did the bond referendum idea come from? Wouldn’t that still mean city residents would ultimately be paying for the stadium? There’s no way the stadium would be completed by 2014 if it’s voted on in November, right?

9) The Downtown site most likely will have some brownfield issues? Raeford Trask has said he isn’t in favor of building on his land on Eastwood. Why is it still being talked about?

10) Capstrat is a very large powerful public relations firm in Raleigh. What is its role in this project?


1) Where did this extra $1 million sales tax come from? Why are we just now learning about it? Why weren’t the hotel and baseball project budgeted for so the city could save this extra $1 million?

2) With that much extra sales tax, why was the city so adamant to annex Monkey Junction?


1) Sterling told you Tuesday night that the city was aware of the extra $137,000 needed to move forward on the Convention Center, but didn’t include it in the budget. How does that happen?

2) Why are we having to spend another $137,000 to sell land behind the Convention Center? We’re paying to sell land?

3) Why has this project been so difficult to button up?

4) If things stay the same, the hotel occupancy tax that is paying for the Convention Center will run out in 3-5 years. If this hotel project doesn’t work out, will residents be on the hook for the Convention Center?


1) One of the city’s main “normal” expenses is usually maintenance of roads, sidewalks, etc., yet you needed to raise taxes this year to complete this basic expectation of city government. What is the city spending money on that you have to raise taxes just to maintain roads and sidewalks?


1) The Parking Department’s budget is at least $200,000 upside down this year, yet City Council took $60,000 that was “earmarked” for marketing downtown and gave it to a downtown group. How does the city give away money which technically doesn’t exist?


The feedback we’re getting here at the station is that there is a lack of vision on this council. It is going against the wishes of a majority of residents. We’re falling behind on basic necessities but are wild about building sexier projects like the Convention Center, the Cross City Trail and now a ballpark. Is now really the right time to build a ballpark?


  • WatchingThis says:

    Question 5) “Why do you and the rest of council keep agreeing to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to explore a project the majority of residents say they don’t want?”

    I thought the surveys I saw said that more people were for the stadium than against and said they were willing to pay more for it… What am I missing?

    Also, isn’t this a leading question like “when did you stop beating your spouse?”

  • YesYes says:

    I agree 110%!!!! The people of Wilmignton are too stupid to realise this will be a great thing for them that will bring millions of tourists and their $$$ to this area. The thing holding the area back now is we need more things like stadiums and convention cntrs to make it grow. Noone wants to come here now because we dont have these things. Yes it will cost many, many millions of dollars and city may be in hole financilly now but you have to make sacrifices sometimes to get hte better things. Wilmington can borrow more money to make this work. Its Worth IT!! Broke sidewalks and potholes are small matters compared to fun and excitment of OUR OWN BALLTEAM.

    But no. People here are too dumb. You are right. Braves should just go to a better town where ppl are smarter and understand this is best thing.

  • Vog46 says:

    You nailed it – a small town.
    With a history of not supporting minor league AA teams in the past.
    So the NSS report was flawed in that it overstated attendance estimates and therefore economic impact for this particular minor league-A team.
    Our town is smaller than most every other minor league-A town, yet NSS said we’d have a higher attendance level as a percentage of population.
    History says something Duke and you’d be wise to pay attention to it.

    Best Regards

  • Vog46 says:

    You nailed it – a small town.
    With a history of not supporting minor league AA teams in the past.
    So the NSS report was flawed in that it overstated attendance estimates and therefore economic impact for this particular minor league-A team.
    Our town is smaller than most every other minor league-A town, yet NSS said we’d have a higher attendance level as a percentage of population.
    History says something Duke and you’d be wise to pay attention to it.

    Best Regards

  • Guest461 says:

    ..get his feelings hurt because nobody wants a useless baseball stadium? So he resorts to calling the Wilmington taxpayers “simple minded, small towners” and cries like a baby. What a t1rd!
    Dukie, take your baseball, your “Braves”, your stadium, your marina and pack it where the sun doesn’t shine as you deliver it to a “more progressive area” and remain there with them! Got that?
    You’re nothing other than an arrogant, self serving, whiney butt developer with the same mentality as Ol’ Hair Spray Saffo! You either listen to the citzens as taxpayers or we run you out of town. THAT is the way simple-mided, small town folk think AND behave! We’re glad you’re beginning to understand!!!

  • guesty says:

    Yes, dukie you are.

  • Grand Ole Party says:

    And yet you are on WWAY at least once a week, reading and posting on the stories. If you find there level of journalism to be JUNIOR, then move on. Go elsewhere for your news. Easy solution right?

  • Vog46 says:

    Lets see Verizon closed the Morrisville NJ location to locate 200+ people here and now employ 10 times that many.
    Here’s where you are “lost”
    Businesses operate 365 days a year and the people live and play here.
    Mandalanta wants to provide 70 days worth of entertainment to those hard working folks.
    Who is more important to Wilmingtons future? Thats right, company’s like Verizon and PPD.
    Why should we give Mandalanta 20 times the amount of incentives we gave to Verizon for a hundred workers versus 2000? For 70 days worth of entertainment versus year round economic impact?
    YOU Duke are as bad as Saffo, Cheatham and Rivenbark. You do not answer questions just pledge a blind allegiance to the NSS report and Mandalanta.
    You are absolutely correct that many local business amenities are lacking. Our airport is tiny, mass transit stinks, and the port is terrible. This is typical of a small city still in the throws of an economic down turn.
    What is not typical is for a city of this size to throw $40M of incentives at an entertainment company. Stopping this is not close minded or small thinking. It’s called being smart.

    Best Regards

  • 1981duke says:

    Not smart VOG stupid,who passes on a 20-30 year lease to change the skyline,status of ‘Downtown’.
    Stupidity,ingnorance runs deep in sleepy old southern towns.

  • Vog46 says:

    Actually you didn’t miss anything.
    The original survey asked if people would want a baseball team here and the natural response was yes.
    When asked about using public funds for it though, the story is far different.

    Seventy percent of the registered voters responding to the poll opposed a city-financed $40 million ballpark, with only 20 percent supporting the idea. Nine percent were unsure. Opposition crossed the gender gap: 73 percent of the men and 69 percent of the women opposed a city-funded field.

    This was ONLY 300 voters so I don’t accept it as being totally accurate.
    However when you see the comments on WECT news articles, and comments here, AND add in the petition drive and how easy it was to collect those signatures and it should be apparent to ALL concerned that baseball is wanted here but not at taxpayers expense.
    BTW the article above was from March 7 so opposition has been around since the beginning, not as a result of any negative press from WWAY.

    I would like to see this thing go to the voters with the best possible deal being put forth prior to the vote. That way we will see how much risk Mandalanta is willing to accept. If the NSS survey is to be believed as accurate they will have no qualms about funding this on their own.

    Best Regards

  • Guest2020 says:

    Those against a taxpayer funded stadium aren’t simple-minded. Unlike you, they realize that you cannot spend money you don’t have and believe that you can still flourish. As other people have said numerous times, the taxpayers of Wilmington will be assuming most of the risk. And it doesn’t take a genius to see that if this was such an excellent business venture, then private investors would be lining up to pay for it. Maybe you are just too complex-minded to see the forest for the trees. Then again, maybe you’re not complex-minded, just small-minded.

  • OhTheThingsIKnow says:

    The scope of questions went well beyond just baseball, but even if they were all about baseball, they were legitimate questions that any legitimate civic leader would have tried to respond to. At the very least, they could have responded with a “We really can’t get into the specifics of that at this time, but we are aware of the concerns” or some other standard political boilerplate. Running, hiding, lying about being unavailable, these are things that create even more questions.

  • GuestNCNative says:

    The good mayor is scheduled to be at the Cape Fear Presbyterian Church Shrimpfest tomorrow with other notables, such as Mike McIntyre. There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony at 1:00 PM, so that may be a good time to corner Saffo.

  • Vog46 says:

    are not tough.
    But the answers may reveal that the city is further along in the process than they want to admit.
    For Hairspray, Cheater AND Rivenbark to be avoiding questions tells me that there is at least a conspiracy to keep the taxpayers mis, or uninformed.
    I also believe that the city routinely watches forums and blogs to gauge the mood of the citizenry and WWAY’s online poll is way different than the surveys the city under took, and the question is phrased differently but the poll completely refutes the previously conducted surveys which the city conducted and promoted in their haste to get this stadium built.
    We may find out that our leaders were making promises they shouldn’t have made…..

    Best Regards

  • Mr. Liar Detector says:

    Liar, Liar, pants on fire. Enjoy your hotdog !!

  • Carol Kramer says:

    Apparently they scatter when you turn the lights on.
    I will stay tuned. Nice job.

  • Guest Reply says:

    They aren’t talking because they are planning their getaway!
    Open all airports…stop all road blocks…stand clear of the bus terminals and no license check points please. Maybe they will sneak outta town and “Not Come Back!”

  • Guest CommonTater says:

    Just the kind of questions the swindlers downtown will avoid at all costs. They lie, cheat-em and steal the taxpayers every which way but loose and don’t feel like they should be held accountable by the people that put them where they are. Mayor saffo you are a true politician… and full of it(sh). Your pedestal isn’t that high.

    Folks… think!! Vote these clowns out!!! What the hell is wrong with you!?

  • UUggggg says:

    WWAY….SHAME ON YOU. How do you manage to pose such reasonable questions to our elected officials. These people, with the exception of City Manager Sterling Cheatham, are politicians. If you want to get a response from most politicians in this country today the media must ask them questions in such a manner that allows them to respond by slinginh mud at someone else or lay blame elsewhere. The general public is probably better at answering the questions you posed than they are. Well at least they would not object to answering the questions. Give them a break with some sofball questions such as what their objectives will be if re-elected to another term. I assure you there will be lenghty responses from the entire lot.

  • Robert Green says:

    The unfortunate force working against these baseball advocates , is that come November , people will be showing up to vote for economic reasons on the local , state and national level.Government has not been responsible stewards of taxpayer’s money and this issue will be on their minds when checking their boxes on the ballot. With the Socialist in the White House , Happy Perdue in Raleigh and King Billy and His Court , we have been on a helluva ride.When we are looking at the degree of indebtedness , the mayor and council members have an obligation to answer tough but fair questioning from a media outlet. The fact they are playing a game of avoidance , cast an even darker cloud concerning these negotiations. There is no integrity or transparency from these folks. This has been a backrrom deal from the onset. As for Sterling Cheatham , he is incompetent and not articulate enough to respond concerning the state of the city’s finances.He is simply a stooge with a title and a big paycheck. His judgement and his grasp of the issues thus far makes him unfit for this position.This defiance of economic reality is the worst kind of governance in this economic climate. They are placing the city in great financial peril with their grossly irresponsible handling of taxpayer monies.Their arrogance that they know better is the same attitude the man on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave has concerning the welfare of the people….. sit down and shut up. The city is over obligating the citizens , therefore expect a mass exodus from the city if financial restraint is not exercised.They can possibly bankrupt the city and follow Obama’s skid marks off the side of the financial cliff.

  • 1981duke says:

    If Braves and Mandalay back out it is because we are what the header reads,you can not please everyone and that is Why Wilmington will only grow with retirees and beach vagabonds.
    Most people in this town are too simple-minded for this proposition that takes just a little bit of guts.

  • 1981duke says:

    Why not show lack of respect at a church,yeah just gang em up at church you are pitifull.

  • Guest_1334 says:

    Ha! Typical Saffo and his goons. They want the questions before hand so they can lie to the public, then when they see the questions they don’t want to answer them because they’re afraid.

    Answer the tough questions Mr. Saffo, God only knows the liberal media won’t ask them…

  • SadieMae says:

    The council must live somewhere else and spend their day doing nothing but trying to come up with how they can annihilate our city. I mean really, why would any city want to do anything to make it more attractive to businesses and tourists. In fact, i say lets not pave any roads and just go back to using a horse and carriage. If you seriously can’t figure out why anyone wouldn’t want to do an interview with your tabloid channel, you need to get a clue.

  • Vog46 says:

    by WECT on the Lease story WWAY has a great story to tell about our secretive city officials.
    Why the silence guys? Its tax money and you should be transparent in your business while going about securing this deal. The questions are not that hard to answer.
    Now we have ANOTHER WWAY poll question about down town being more violent or not after a women had a purse stolen. Over whelming response is either same old violent downtown or the violence has increased. By a WIDE margin. This is not good for a place that supposedly will benefit from having a ball field in the area. How many of these families will want to spend time downtown when the perception is thats its a violent part of the city?

    Best Regards

  • joe T. says:

    What a great read, your questions would require some great answers which I am looking forward to reading in the near future!

    I am sitting down here in Mobile Alabama where their Convention Center is a continuous drain on their budget and now their cruise terminal has no cruise ship so it is empty along with its parking garage but the some 20 million in outstanding loans that built it remain.

    It is my hope that Wilmington remains a great place to live for both young and old, with no fear of being taxed out of their homes.

  • joe T. says:

    So are you saying retirees and beach loving people are a negative? I believe the only simple minded person in your statement is the one that is looking back at you in your bathroom mirror. Please think about what you wrote next time you are brushing and flossing.

  • Vog46 says:

    No if Mandalatlanta pulls out it will be because they saw through the “professional” and “thorough” NSS report that ignored the Port City Rooster debacle while overstating Wilmington’s attendance projections.
    Retirees and tourists are not bad for businesses Duke….but I’d rather see the city give away incentives to company’s like PPD and Verizon who provided thousands of full time good paying jobs and who’s impact is felt 365 days per year.
    Not this 70 home game per year crap and we pay the full price for the stadium.
    I’d rather they give away $40M in tax incentives to other good company’s……
    Simple minded? A little bit of guts?
    Or too smart to play Mandalanta’s game?

    Best Regards

  • Guest2020 says:

    It’s open to the public, so why shouldn’t people be able to ask questions?

  • Guest2020 says:

    And the responses will include a bunch of lies.

    Name the politicians who said the following:
    “I am not a crook”.

    “I didn’t have sexual relations with that woman”.

    “Read my lips, no new taxes”.

    “No. And that’s one of the issues when people come to us and tell us we want to bring a ballteam to your community how are you gonna pay for it?” (In response to being asked if he supported a taxpayer funded stadium in Wilmington.)

  • Carol Kramer says:

    Pearls before simple-minded swine, is that your position?
    If the Braves and Mandalay take their ball and go home it won’t be because we lack guts, it will be because we don’t lack brains. By the way, I’m not interested in them backing out, I would prefer that they turn and run.

  • Vog46 says:

    Answering all those questions would take up too much space.
    But there is one question there that is “damning” to the city just by being asked:

    4) If things stay the same, the hotel occupancy tax that is paying for the Convention Center will run out in 3-5 years. If this hotel project doesn’t work out, will residents be on the hook for the Convention Center?

    This question in itself tells us why residents are so upset with the elected officials of this city. The convention center proposal was done much the same way this one was. Studies, surveys and monies being spent. Many people were scratching their heads wondering if Wilmington could compete with established convention centers in Myrtle Breach. The studies convinced council and us that yes indeed, Wilmington is considered a premiere destination place in SE North Carolina. Now we are staring at the possibility of taxpayers funding the center. We are on our 4th attempt at getting a hotel next door to the center – a hotel BTW that was touted at one time as being probably the easiest part of this project. Convention center? Oh those hotel company’s will fall all over themselves trying to get the contract to be the CC hotel. Yet private financing has fallen through 3 previous times already.
    Anyone who has followed this project knows how damaging it is to have deals fall through so when “Mandalanta” announced that private funding was off the table for now I shuddered remembering the previous hotel financing failures.
    This is not all “Mandalanta’s” fault. Part, if not all the fault lie with us and our elected officials. Wilmington has an identity problem. On one hand we want to maintain some small town southern charm with things like the Azalea festival. On the other hand we want to exhibit modern urban “charm” with things like the convention center. We want industry groups to come here and take note of what this area has to offer when they are gathering for conventions. We offer natural things like beaches, great weather, and then we offer small town southern charm. You can see the contrast. We want the steel and glass of companies like PPD, while maintaining the appearance of stately plantation mansions. We want the quiet of farm fields along with the hustle and bustle of a large metro area.
    But private company’s know this difference and know how to deal with the contrast. The Marriott builds a hotel at CB. Its full during season. Off season it offers some deals to keep the rooms full. It is right on the beach. Spring, summer and fall its profitable, and it makes do during slower winter months.
    But it’s privately financed, and there’s no financial risk to the town of CB. THEY (the Marriott) did their own surveys and those surveys told them that our beaches are attractive and will bring people in for 3/4 of a year or 273 days.
    The baseball surveys tried to tie in tourism as a justification for building the stadium when in fact, the stadium would COMPETE for attention with the beaches at the exact same time of the year – summer.
    But the big difference is the cost. The CB hotels cost the townspeople nothing – in fact they generate room taxes. The convention center WILL cost the taxpayers money apparently as will this stadium.
    If it was so popular (like our beaches) Mandalanta would build it themselves (like the hotels did).
    The convention center and associated attempts at a hotel should tell us that there’s only so much downtown Wilmington has to offer right now. I would rather see this land be used to attract a business to this area, as opposed to a tourist/entertainment entity. Heck, I’d approve incentives to make it happen – but not $40M. 7 years property tax free? No problem. This is down town, not a beach – and explains why Mandalanta wants us to foot the bill. They suspect, just like the Port City Roosters, that it might fail and they want NOTHING to do with the possibility of paying a 30 year mortgage on an unused stadium.

    Best Regards

  • guesty says:

    Even more interesting, we invited City Councilman Charlie Rivenbark to do an interview yesterday. He told us he was out of town and couldn’t, but soon afterwards, our General Manager ran into him at Trolly Stop downtown.

    He meant he was out of town from another town, say Raleigh, not Wilmington.

  • Logical Thinking says:

    Thank you, WWAY, for writing this! These guys have gotten away with spending money we don’t have for too long. Their financial irresponsibility seems to know no bounds – unless it means neglecting services that are necessary, rather than – as you so aptly put it – “sexy”. If we all ran our household budgets like these people run the City, we’d be homeless.

    These guys don’t want any more light shined on their shenanigans, and questions like these make them REAL uncomfortable. I say, KEEP IT UP! Don’t give them a moment when they’re out in public that they’re safe from these questions. Let them know we’re aware of what they’re doing and WE DON’T LIKE IT.

    @ duke1981: First off, this is a PUBLIC event the MAYOR is attending,not a church function. He’s there to smile for the camera and shake hands, not to pray for guidance. Secondly, he is Mayor 24/7. It is not a part time position. I wouldn’t say bother him at home, but if he’s out in public, he’s fair game. Same goes for Cheat’em, Rivenbark, and the rest of the clown posse. (Except Laura Padgett. Thank her for her efforts and express your condolences for saddling her with the rest of these goofballs,0

  • MrT says:

    WWAY would have been better served to have hired a news director that reached higher than a junior level in Journalism. The fact that you cant get the story your way doesn’t permit you to sower the reputation of the ABC Network. Surely you understand the sensitivity surrounding the talks between the City and Mandalay/Braves and others. The City, it’s administration and Council are under no obligation to play this matter to the media. Publishing the fact that you make deals to officials just to gain advantage over other media outlets and use the premise that your motivation is noble to the citizens is cheap and underhanded.

  • GuestMan. says:

    What do you think WWAY is if it isn’t part of the media? Whoops, will that throw you off your talking points, Rush.

  • Guest343 says:

    don’t forget “they have wmd’s”.

  • 1981duke says:

    That you are VOG.

  • 1981duke says:

    If I gave you 40 million in incentives,who could YOU bring here?
    We have a tiny airport,no mass transit,a very small port in the global scope.
    Who would re-locate 500-1000 people here with nothing but a beach to lure companies who are working,not relaxing.

  • 1981duke says:

    That is our demographic make-up,unfortunately.
    Not what the “business ” people need or want.

  • 1981duke says:

    While negotiating?

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    ….and you think that the people opposed to taxpayers paying for this stadium are stupid?


  • 1981duke says:

    I would pull proposal,this is too progressive for a simple-minded small town,who thinks small.
    They have spent way too much time for what is other areas is a “slam dunk” and airtight proposition.

  • Vog46 says:

    I don’t think you could bother Saffo at home if you tried. Doesn’t he live within the gated walls of Landfall?

    Best Regards

  • Guest CommonTater says:

    Stamp those little feet and have that tantrum!!

    People have the right to say what they want their tax monies used for. To fix the infrastructure is way up on the scale of what government should be responsible for getting done. If you don’t see it because of your childish want of another place to play baseball then I would take a moment to look in the mirror and see the stupid one….

  • Logical Thinking says:

    Tax Payers of Wilmington— Against more wasteful spending

    People Who Don’t Live in or Pay Taxes in Wilmington— pro-Wilmington taxpayer funded entertainment for them

  • 1981duke says:

    The WAHA and Chamber of Commerce said a “whopping 96%” of city merchants,want the stadium,baseball,multi-use.
    Why are we “balking”?

  • Vog46 says:

    Over 25% of the voters in the last election signed the petition to NOT provide public funds.
    A petition that was not publicly advertised so that more people could sign it if they wanted. It was way too easy for Fulton/McCoy to get the limited number of signatures that they did. WWAY polling questions seem to indicate that a very BIG majority do not want public funds to pay for this stadium.
    The Chairman of the New Hanover County Commissioners says NO county funds will be used.
    And private funding has dried up for now.

    How could all these folks be wrong?
    Yeah I know. We’re just a bunch of small town, small minded hicks that don’t know whats good for us…….
    Best Regards

  • tugaann says:

    Didn;t the chairman of the County Ted Davis reopen the door to the County getting back in the game. Might be wrong but thought Davis stated he and Jason Thompson would meet with them???

  • SurfCityTom says:

    if as you say 96% of the City merchants want the ball park, and we assume they want it as they believe it will stimulate business activity downtown, why not let them put some skin in the game?

    How about a 2% sales tax increase, all of which will be funneled to the ball park? Or, how about a 5 year membership assesment to be funneled to the ball park?

    There must be some concrete, skin on the table means for all of these business owners and merchants, whom you predict will benefit from the ball park, to ante up.

  • 1981duke says:

    He did, and no way to address/insert into the 2012-2013 budget.
    The contingency fund is 500k,1% of total 2012-2013 total budget leaves nothing left.

  • 1981duke says:

    The Hammerheads would leave Legion but can not because..
    1.The pitchers mound would have to be shaves down,rebuilt after each game.
    This takes alot of time,as well as costs.
    The dimensions of Legion for Soccer,is better for spectators than a vaseball stadium with odd angles.
    2.Costs—the Hammerheads pay ONLY $850.00 per game to use Legion,the Field Turf cost $800,000 and the primary reason,aside of mound is that cost structure would drastically change.
    3.Multi-use—there 70 baseball games singla-A, and some UNCW/HIGH school games.
    Every other day is a chance to handle a concert,special event,company pic-nics,job-fairs,events like “relay for life,’MS wallks”,azalea concerts,Christmas Tree Fests,Beer fests..and it will be the “magnet” and “focal” point for downtown.

    Mandalay are professionals,in their 6 other mino-league teams they do the same thing 365/7

    So,all we can do is look at past history,successes

  • YesYes says:

    You are right again,people will flokc to poles to vote FOR “baseball”.We know what we want and we will vote for it! Vote YES for baseball + progress!!!

  • Rick Wilson says:

    @ Chuck & yesyes
    Keep dreaming, your wake calls will happen in November. There are 5.1 billion reasons to vote no on this stadium.

  • Guest2020 says:

    If the referendum reads like the petition does, then the vote in November will not be a cut-and-dried, yes or no, regarding the stadium. The wording is too ambiguous to give a straight yes or no answer. I don’t want a taxpayer funded stadium, but I couldn’t vote for the referendum because as it reads, Legion Stadium could be in jeopardy of losing its funding and where would that leave New Hanover High School for its home football games. The petition should have been limited to this stadium or all future stadiums, but it didn’t and I wouldn’t vote for it.

    The biggest problem with this petition is that if it gets voted down, then the City Council will take it as a taxpayer supported stadium, which will not be the case.

  • Vog46 says:

    That is not the issue,so call it “Baseball” we call it using a “multi-use Stadium for Economic Development”.

    Yeah right.
    The only solid support for multi-use may be UNCW according to sect 6 of the NSS report. And THAT would only be pre and post season play
    CFCC doesn’t have a team
    High school baseball would be out due to budget problems

    The Azalea festival concert? Maybe

    Here’s a though for you. The downtown concert series is very popular. NSS said “hey move it into our stadium”. Concert promoters said “Now we will charge admission.”
    Uh hello? Anyone home? Do you think its even remotely possible that these concerts are popular because they’re FREE?

    Section 6 contains so much pie in the sky wishful thinking its pathetic.
    NSS compiled a lot of statistics but when it came to economic impact and development they had to rely on estimates and surveys. They used terms like possible, expressed an interest, could etc etc etc.
    Now here’s where incentives for company’s differ.
    They bring in say 2000 jobs. They know their average salary that will be paid. Thats good, solid numbers.
    Whereas NSS had to use estimates. The down town location is both a blessing and a curse to this project. Sure NSS believes it to have the best chance for economic impact but the down town area is also a Jeckyl and Hyde location. During the day its bustling – at night its a bar scene. Many residents perceive it to be a violent area. This is not seen as a safe place for family entertainment venues.
    Add to the fact that Wilmington would be one of the smallest (by population) metro areas to have a stadium and you can see that economic impact may be over stated. Their own figures show non tennant use to be estimated to be 150 events but the mean league average is 120 or 20% less than the estimated numbers. And in comparable cities youth, HS and college baseball make up MOST of the non tennant events. Here youth baseball attracts only several hundred attendees and as stated before no HS baseball and only pre and post season college (post season college baseball would NOT be yearly as there’d be a lot of competition to host CAA tourneys).
    The BEST non tennant use appears to be Hammerheads soccer. They average 4,000 per game at Legion according to NSS – yet, they don’t WANT to leave Legion Stadium. I wonder why that is?
    Over whelming estimates of economic impact and under whelming support for public funding makes for a possible disastrous adventure into minor league baseball- AGAIN. Considering how the first adventure turned out we need to look at this with eyes wide open..

    Best Regards

  • 1981duke says:

    More “baseball” fans,than “non-baseball” fans.
    That is not the issue,so call it “Baseball” we call it using a “multi-use Stadium for Economic Development”.
    Whatever it takes to progreess the area is fine.
    the “Baseball” side will carry the vote.

  • Vog46 says:

    I have been reading the NSS report trying to find some consistancies on the figures they use and there are some statistics that should tell our city leaders why this isn’t such a good idea:
    From pg 19:

    Relative to 48 other full‐season Class A markets, the Wilmington market ranks in the bottom half in terms of population (42nd), median age (39th), median income (35th) and corporate base (42nd).   

    Notice how they phrased it? We rank in the bottom half? While technically correct we do rank in the bottom 15% when it comes to population.
    They use a 30 mile radius when talking demographics but they use 35 miles when doing the comparison to other Class A teams in one of this lists.
    They then say the area has s strong military presence that should help attendance when those areas are 70 plus miles away. My question on this is why not go 120 miles and include the Raleigh metro area as well?
    Heres the statistic that should be useful to Council from pg 18
    The average pop. within a 30 mi radius averages out to be 1,211,336 for all 49 teams
    The MEAN is 675,839
    Wilmington is at 348,000 (I rounded it off)

    There is no way the economic impact of the stadium here could be compared to others within the league when in fact our population is half of the mean.
    But our small size will impact other areas of the report to include non tenant use of the stadium. Most other stadiums referenced in the report have fairly extensive HS/Youth/College baseball usage, yet the report indicates in another section that Wilmington has far less potential for that, and for THOSE events I would suspect, based upon our population that our attendance would be far less (like half) for non tenant use.

    We cannot support an investment of this size – 33% of our annual budget, when our population is half that of the mean average for all teams. This is why Mandalantas 18% is based on minimal financial outlay of their own, upfront.
    Now consider this.
    If the employees are city/county do we wish to be on the hook for pensions and healthcare for these public servants? They would pay us $75K annually for maintenance so I assume the employees performing this maintenance to be government employees.
    This requires a large outlay for taxpayers. IF these are in fact government employees then the city’s outlay stretches out far beyond 30 years when you look at pensions.
    I thought we were trying to shrink government and reduce debt.

    Best Regards

  • 1981duke says:

    In a 3 county radius there are 362,000 people.
    New Hanover,Pender,Brunswick
    In a 7 radius the above 3 plus..
    Bladen,Columbus,Sampson,Onlslow this swells to 752,000 people.

    This per 2010 census.
    The 3 county population supposed to grow about 90,000 more by 2022.
    I am not sure where you get your facts but these are the “facts” and demographics that lead Mandalay to consider Wilmington.
    The research has been done numerous times,we can not accept your “VOODOO” methods.
    I hope you were not a marketing major,I was and do it daily.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    you take facts and figures right from the NSS report; you research other markets; it’s as plain as a nose on someone’s face this is not the drop dead, lay down, money fount which the proponents have attempted to portray.

    Even in his presentation, the NSS rep stated this might not be a good investment for Wilmington. And anyone with half a brain should know this was the first steps in creating their legal defense when this albatross flounders and beaches itself at the taxpayers’ feet.

    And yet, the proponents will somehow try to defend this travesty; and in doing so try to use personal attacks rather than hard facts.

    It causes you to wonder if they are depending on this ball park for future employment or to garner a commission from the sale of the overpriced riverfront.

    Now it’s time for the opposition to spew forth some personal attacks.

  • Guester says:

    By your sentence structure or lack of, we know it’s you Kuebler. You sir are an idiot.

  • 1981duke says:

    The business saavy is not here.

  • Guest2020 says:

    Intelligent people can discern the facts and see that Wilmington cannot even afford to pay for its needs, therefore it is idiotic for the city to use taxpayer money to build another albatross. Intelligent people can also come to the logical conclusion that if this is such a great business venture then there would be private investors lining up to get a piece of the pie.

  • Vog46 says:

    I quoted Mandalay.
    Or are you saying their report is flawed Chuck?

    Best Regards

  • guesty says:

    Now we know why you keep trying to sell this pig in a jacket to the taxpayers. We are wise enough to see through the bs you and city council are trying to push.

  • Logical Thinking says:

    Chuck, as Vog stated, he got those figures from the NSS report. Are you saying NSS uses “VOODOO” methods? If so, you’ll certainly get no argument from me.

  • Vog46 says:

    I got those figures as stated in the post from Pg 19 of the thorough and professional report by NSS.
    And please if you want to add the 7 additional counties by all means go ahead but then do it to all the cities for the league. NSS used a 35 mi radius and was at least consistent on that for population figures but then tried to say that military bases over 70 miles away was “another” positive for attendance figures.
    Didn’t you READ the NSS report Duke?
    Wilmington is a small market – it ranks in the bottom 5 of all markets.
    Thats why Atlanta wants US to pay for it.
    Because if attendance isn’t what they hoped it would be they can pick up and move.
    Just like the Port City Roosters did Duke. AA Seattle. Attendance was counted in the hundreds Duke – in a facility with a capacity of 3100.
    We didn’t support them then
    We won’t support them now

    The difference is we didn’t have $40M in debt hanging over our heads when the team left.

    Thats not voodoo economic Duke
    Did you flunk marketing by chance? Because you sure don’t take into account previous attempts at baseball here

    Best Regards

  • Guest2020 says:

    I know it’s not a direct comparison since it’s a completely different league and setup, but what is the average attendance for the Wilmington Sharks? I remember when the Roosters were in town and the attendance is poor.

    I would like to add something with the greater Wilmington area factors y’all were talking about. The people in the southern part of Brunswick County would not be likely attending any sporting events in Wilmington on a regular basis. The Pelicans’ stadium in Myrtle Beach is an easier drive. There are no issues with parking. The immediate area has better options for dining and other activities. Also, the people who attend the Pelican’s games won’t have to worry as much about their cars getting broken into and will feel safer walking to their cars after a night game.

    I think the other fella mentioned spreading the numbers out to include Columbus County as well. Given an option between Myrtle Beach and Wilmington, the residents of Columbus County, at leas as far north as Whiteville, are more likely to go to Myrtle Beach as well.

  • Guest788 says:

    Got to hand it to dumb (Ben) and dumber (Josh), they are doin a good job of trying to take the focus off of themselves and crazy conspiracies that everybody and everything wrong but them and whole world corrupt. But can’t believe Ch. 3 fell for it and took their spoon fed questions hook, line and sinker. Why isn’t anybody asking why didn’t Ch.3 ask these questions BEFORE council votes on budget and other stuff like other media did? oh yeah, they had to wait until dumb and dumber told them what to ask. What a joke!

  • Vog46 says:

    WWAY does trail WECT when it comes to popular local news stations. And while its OK to criticize the media outlets in THIS situation WWAY went out of its way to try to get Saffo et al on camera to answer the questions. I agree that these questions should have been asked at the council meetings but in group settings getting a chance to ask questions and follow up questions is difficult especially when you are recognized as “media” in these meetings.
    But WE are voters and they are elected officials as such they should take every opportunity to answer questions to assure the voters that they have their best interests at heart. Their group refusal does nothing but add to our impression that they are inept when large deals such as this come along. This ineptness stems from other large deals such as the convention center which may end up costing taxpayers millions more than anticipated.
    They should have anticipated tough questions, it’s part of their job and this is a contentious issue – it’s $40M of “contentious”.
    Their failure to answer the written questions is troubling……

    Best Regards

  • Rick Wilson says:

    @ Guest 788
    All Ben and Josh did was keep the Mayor and City Council from shoving this project down the tax payers throats. There will now be an election to decide this issue. All I’ve heard from Chuck and Terry are how 70% of the people want this, how your polls are the only ones that count. You discount what anyone that does not agree with you says, put down their education, their lack of enlightenment, and even where they live in the area. You claim single A ball is so much better than anything else we have now and how dare anyone dispute what you think. You are mad there will actually be an election because in your selfish minds this project should have happened and the tax payers should just pay and keep their opinions to themselves. Well……What are you worried about? According to your propaganda this should be passed by an overwhelming majority of the voters. I believe you are worried because you saying it does not make it the truth. The people will see through the distortions and just plain lies of a few selfish people. The people will say NO to turning Wilmington into a Welfare Center for billionaires. The voters are going to reject this. The bond issue will fail. In the end, there will be 100’s of thousands of dollars once again wasted by city government. The same government that has to raise taxes to pay for necessary projects Wilmington needs. If Mandalay and the Braves have not left before the election, the voters will show them the door. Hopefully some of the “so called city leaders” will be shown the same exit.

  • Robert Green says:

    If you like liberal tax and spend politicians , you read the Red Star. If you like news regurgitation read from a teleprompter , you watch WECT-TV 6. If you like conservative opinions , you tune in your radio dial. WWAY TV3 is the only news outlet asking LEGITIMATE questions concerning the city of Wilmington’s finances and the ballpark. The NSS feasiblilty study is a bunch of pie in the sky garbage paid for by the city.You are the pot calling the kettle black and your judgement has been altered by sniffing jock straps.These clowns running the city can continue to run but they can’t out run reality….there is no dividends for the taxpayer by building a ballpark for multi-millionaires.

  • 1981duke says:

    The demographics spell out we are the perfect fit for single-A baseball.
    So why fight it,enjoy it.

  • Vog46 says:

    If you are right about this:
    “The demographics spell out we are the perfect fit for single-A baseball.”

    Then DON’T fight it

    PAY FOR IT !!!!

    To misquote Field of Dreams
    “If you pay for it they will come”

    And of course they won’t pay for it Duke.
    Because the demographics don’t support it!

    Best Regards

  • Rick Wilson says:

    Keep dreaming Chuck, the November wake up is coming……

  • TooBadSoSad says:

    Subject Line Says It All…
    Sounds Like Nothing But Thieves for Special Interests…
    Downtown Council? Hotel Tax? Baseball Stadium Research Groups? Road Taxes? Forced Annexations ex. MJ!

    Remember Their Names Not Their Party Affiliation At The Ballots!
    Don’t Be So Dense Wilmington Voters!!!

  • 1981duke says:

    They are below,again good research and facts of the deal,are critical…
    National Sports Services draft report highlights


    $36-42 million for construction, land, infrastructure
    Costs for construction and land are comparable to preliminary estimates from Mandalay, but there may be some opportunities for savings either from a change in scope to the proposal, or from a more specific, detailed proposal when that becomes available.

    Preferred location
    Greater downtown area most preferred, followed by Eastwood Road corridor
    Key factors include proximity to dining, hotels and other entertainment, as well as the potential to enhance existing and additional economic development, parking opportunities and existing infrastructure.

    Economic Impact
    City and County combined – over 20 years, estimated $313 million in new direct spending, $24.7 million new revenues, $451 million in new total output (City/County figures broken out as follows:)

    ■Estimated $242 million in total new output
    ■$168 million in new direct spending
    ■$19.3 million in new revenue
    ■Estimated $209 million in total new output
    ■$145 million in new direct spending
    ■$5.4 million in new revenue

    Figures derived through multiplier effects of the team and ballpark output, including direct, indirect and induced spending. Sources for new revenues include lease payments, sales and property taxes, hotel taxes and admission taxes.

    Total of 6,412 new one -year full and part-time jobs earning $138 million
    ■City – 3,481 jobs that would generate an estimated $76 million in new personal earnings
    ■County – 2,931 jobs that would generate an estimated $62 million in new personal earnings

    Intangible benefits
    National/regional media exposure, affordable entertainment, enhanced community pride

    ■Strong regional draw with military bases and nearby beaches as enhancements
    ■60% of market within 15 miles, equaling 255,000 residents; another 30% draw within 30 miles, equaling 348,000 residents
    ■Recommend 6,000-seat stadium; average seating at ballparks in comparable markets is just over 6,100 seats, with a range of 4,500-8,100
    ■Our demographics in same range as comparable ballparks

    Public Support/funding
    On average, public funding accounts for 59% of minor league baseball developments built since 1995
    If Wilmington follows this model, the public investment would be $25.4 million, assuming the project would cost a total of $42 million. Mandalay would contribute $16.6 million through annual payments of $400,000 a year and other partners would need to be identified to contribute another $7.4 million.

    Citizen funding support
    53% of survey respondents indicated they would be willing to pay up to $2 a month for the ballpark

    Mandalay return on investment
    An estimated 18% profit margin in the first year, stabilizing at 10% by fifth year of operation and then an average 7.1% return over the life of a 20-year lease

    Potential partners
    Nearby real estate development, free or discounted land contribution, UNCW or others as tenants, other governmental partners, corporate fundraising, private donors, foundation grants

    Other activities for ballpark
    Comparable ballparks host youth, high school and college baseball, concerts, graduations, religious events, food festivals, private functions, movie nights, professional soccer games

    Number of events
    Comparable ballparks hosted an average of 153 events each year

    Attendance at comparable parks is 3,796 per game, with a range from 2,449-5,612

    Comparable parks
    Cedar Rapids Kernels, Fort Wayne Tin Caps, Greensboro Grasshoppers, Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Winston-Salem Dash

    Tied to level of funding commitment; size of project can be scaled down, but benefits and return on investment diminish accordingly



  • GuestOrator says:

    Refusing to answer questions just makes these guys look worse. Do they not know the answers, or is it because they realize telling the truth will make them look worse than they already do?
    I’m not a fan of any local media outlet, but I have to commend WWAY for at least ATTEMPTING to get answers to these questions. Keep it up, don’t let silence be an option for them!!

  • 1981duke says:

    For negatively slanted articles?
    This is a “bash” campaign.

  • Guest X says:

    Thats my mayor

  • another chuck says:

    Those are the questions we all want answered!!!

  • Rick Wilson says:

    I believe Mandalay knows this project is over. In spite of the full court press the city and supporters will do, most of the voting public will see thru the smoke screen and vote no. The bond issue will fail also. Without private funding the project will end. The only thing left to decide is how much more money the Mayor and Council will decide to waste on this project. It is a shame the extra sales tax money will be wasted on lessons in futility. I feel sorry for the city residents. It must be extremely difficult to hear about necessary tax increases while the city government wastes 100’s of thousands of dollars. How much of a tax increase would be necessary if the money wasted on the Convention Center, Hotel project, Baseball Project, and Parking Deck being sold/re purchased at a loss was still in the city’s bank account. The room taxes applied to the Convention Center could have been applied to other needed projects. If all of this money had not been wasted, would the city have to freeze its employees wages? Maybe when the election results are in……..current city leaders will receive a wake up call as they are shown the exit.

  • Brian M says:

    For an organization professing to be composed of professional journalists you certainly do not act the part. First you send out tweets telling people to sign the anti-Wilmington stadium proposal, and then you pretend to be impartial journalists covering a news story.

    Now, you state that the job of politicians is to answer questions from the press, even loaded ones such as these. Isn’t their job to serve the city?

    I’m amazed at how little journalistic integrity your “news” organization has shown these last few months. You’ve clearly thrown your hat in the ring with the anti-Wilmington anti-stadium mob, so why the former pretense of impartiality? Who let so many rats onto the ship?

  • Vog46 says:–nfl.html

    The NEW San Francisco 49ers stadium
    Total cost $1.2B
    The county had promised funding of $40M through a redevelopment act. $10B had been spent,leaving $30M free cash.
    The county has re-appropriated the funds to cover education etc

    The 49ers?
    A storied franchise. Many games sold out
    Popular as all get out
    The county had promised 33% funding.
    Now its less than 10% – due to tough times.
    Here Mandalay is asking for 100% financing (right now) for a questionable attendance figure given our history with the Roosters.

    Economic tough times trump building entertainment venues.
    And you wonder why or how Fulton/McCoy could get so many signatures so fast?

    This project needs to die before we spend anymore money

    Best Regards

  • 1981duke says:

    Seriously try again as the NFL has only 32 teams,most in huge markets.
    All are extremely profitable,and not all are private financed,they have a rediculous per-capita income,corporations who will pay almost any price for FOOTBALL.
    Compare Apples and Apples please.
    Yankee Stadiun was new 1.4 billion 100% public financed BASEBALL stadium for a private/select team.
    For every rediculous example you cite,we have many more successes than failures.
    The “FEAR” element has seized your grasp to understand facts at hand.
    Quit living in,spreading ‘The FEAR”.
    What are you afraid of?
    Success for or City and Area?

  • Thank you for your outstanding article. It’s about time the news media stepped forward with tough questions. I doubt the “Star News” would follow through on this type of honest journalism as they seem to be under the control of the above-mentioned leaders; for what reason I’m afraid to ask; but we hope you do.

    Respectfully yours,

    James Ryan

  • 1981duke says:

    Star News -pro baseball
    Wect——-pro baseball
    News 14—-pro-baseball
    WWAY——-Ugly Duckling–against baseball,how can other 3 be wrong?

  • Guest87293847293847 says:

    Bugdet? Really? That’s just pathetic.

  • Guest2020 says:

    If the stadium is such a good thing, why are the Wilmington Idiot Council, the mayor and the city manager not being transparent? If this was such a great idea and wonderful thing for Wilmington, they would be out there answering the questions.

  • 1981duke says:

    Than you can be transparent.

  • 1981duke says:

    If people are not listening,why should council and MAYOR tell over,over,over,over again.

  • bill says:

    big thank you to wway !

  • 1981duke says:

    Never saw a”pro” article for stadium or Braves via WWAY.
    From Day 1they have negatively slanted this.

  • Guest2020 says:

    You said during your campaign that you would say “no” to a taxpayer funded stadium because Wilmington cannot afford it. What happened between the election and now to enable Wilmington to afford a taxpayer funded stadium?

  • Guest2020 says:

    You have things backwards. It’s Wilmington’s politicians that aren’t listening, not the other way around.

  • 1981duke says:

    Mandalay,NSS and others have done “professional and neutral” marketing studies about Baseball in Wilmington.
    All test ‘POSITIVE”
    So where are you getting your market data from.
    There are 362,000 people in a 30 minute radius from downtown,752,000 in a 1 hour drive from Wilmington and Visitors,Tourists,Convention Goers,Baseball fans as well.
    So a few groups,professional have studied this for the past 2-9 years,let me see your counter-facts.
    I can only listed to credible sources,you are in-credible but in a bad way.
    So just saying odd things will not suffice.
    You have NO VERIFIABLE evidence.

  • 1981duke says:

    Your 1 vote counts,just like November.

Leave a Reply