El Paso moves forward with $50M minor league ballpark

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Submitted: Tue, 06/26/2012 - 9:54pm
Updated: Tue, 06/26/2012 - 9:59pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — As the debate continues over whether to build a minor league baseball stadium in Wilmington, other cities tackle similar decisions. El Paso, TX, is the latest to decide to make the investment.

According to the El Paso Times, El Paso City Council voted today to spend $50 million on a downtown ballpark that would help bring a team from the AAA Pacific Coast League to the west Texas border town.

According to the newspaper, the 7,000-9,000-seat stadium would be financed with a two-cent increase in the city’s hotel occupancy tax. Voters will vote on the tax hike in November. The Hotel Motel Association opposes the increase.

Click here to read more at ElPasoTimes.com


  • Vog46 says:

    Port City Roosters

    1995 attendance of 110,233 or 1574/game
    1996 attendance of 68,463 or 978/game

    In a 3000 seat stadium that was already in existence
    AA ball (Mariners) back then, versus single A ball (Atlanta) now

    Its no wonder Atlanta wants us to fund the stadium….
    Council needs to vote AGAINST this and end this insanity, unless its totally funded by Atlanta and private investors.

    Best Regards

  • Steve H. says:

    Love baseball. Grew up with it. Played it. Watched it. Have attended major, minor & little league games since I was 6 (40 years+). If city government wants to SPECULATE with taxes, bet on infrastructure like roads, wastewater, or other real world necessities. DO NOT bet on baseball. Cities around the country can testify to this (see the homepage). For goodness sake, if the Braves or Mandalay thought this was a slam dunk, they wouldn’t even whisper in our direction about funding (they’d never want us to know how ‘lucrative’ this scheme could possibly be). Fact is, they’ve got a whopper on the hook and they want to land it. Should the Braves & Mandalay (& private investors) finance the deal and leave taxpayers out of it, I’ll buy season tickets! I am not an anti-tax zealot – taxes serve a purpose in our community and this IS NOT one of them. City staff needs to snap out of it and perk up. It’s 2012 folks. Please.

  • Guest757 says:

    So, what if El Paso,TX is building a baseball park… This is Wilmington NC and we don’t care what they do…

    NO ballpark on the tax payers back..

  • Guest Reply says:

    Ah Yes…good ole El Paso.
    I’m still waiting to hear what their city (El Paso) is doing about the old Miller house tree stump that has caused some flat tires with travelers in town. The roots are cracking through the street payment at Cowboy Street and Rodeo Rd.
    I wonder what would happen in Wilmington if a “REAL” problem like that came along??

  • 1981duke says:

    We are using “LOST” local sales tax option for Convention Center.

  • Vog46 says:

    You read that the convention center had no, I repeat 0 – public events from now till September. It’s on their website.
    It’s no wonder they can’t attract a hotel there’s not enough business at this place to warrant the level of investment needed to build the 130 room facility! We are on our 4th go round and I believe this one will fail too.
    Now we’re on our second go round with baseball. As I posted earlier first season ave attendance was 1534 and second year THAT dropped to under thousand per game. As Duke says “Demographics don’t lie” – hows that for a demographic?
    And to make that worse every mayor since then has attempted to attract baseball to Wilmington to include Peterson and Broadhurst. I think Peterson even talked to Ripken Baseball.

    We CAN afford it as our debt level is good the question is do we want to pay for MOST of it? From what I’ve seen since the petition of Fulton/McCoy public opinion is squarely FOR Baseball and squarely AGAINST using public funds to pay for it.

    I really don’t care what the latest incarnation of deal may be – I am against using tax dollars for an entertainment venue. I’d rather offer what we gave PPD – property tax breaks for 5 years.
    The council may surprise everyone July 10 – and vote against pursuing this any further.

    Best Regards

  • SurfCityTom says:

    add 2 to 4 cents to the hotel occupancy tax for funding of the ballpark. After all, as you noted that’s how it’s being done in El Paso. Of course, in Wilmigton, you might need to add a dime.

    But wait. It still has to be approved by the voters.

    AND, the hotel/motel owners association is squealing like stuck pigs.

    Why would that be? After all, according to you, there will be new hotels needed and increased occupancy for all the ball fans who will stay in town. Right?

  • Vog46 says:

    You’re trolling….be nice.
    If Duke is gonna use the local area demographics to insure attendance then there will be NO NEED for more local hotels.
    And of course we can’t seem to attract developers for the convention center hotel right now either as we are on our 4th attempt.
    The only way to do the hotel tax is to do either city hotels ONLY, or county hotels which would require state legislative approval. Given the anti tax increase make up of our legislature that won’t happen.

    so we shall see – it will either be a general obligation bond hopefully including some private financing from people with DEEP pockets.

    Or a revenue bond with specific taxes imposed by the city collected for the ballpark ONLY. (right now the county collects revenues for beach re-nourishment and tourism promotion through hotel room taxes which includes all city hotels).
    This is an interesting conundrum the city is putting itself in. If they go general obligation bonds they will double the city’s debt with this one project. They are in good shape financially and have no problems servicing their current debt.
    If they go revenue bonds by increasing room taxes the only way they can do this themselves is by taxing city hotels only – which will impact the very people we WANT to come to the ball games – tourists. Its very easy to spend other peoples money but thats wearing awfully thin right now.

    Best Regards

  • 1981duke says:

    I like this deal….

    In the approval, council also passed a resolution calling for the stadium project and asking for a hotel occupancy tax increase from 15.5 percent to 17.5 percent to finance it. The hotel tax increase will go to voters for approval in November. If voters reject the hotel tax increase, the city will have to find alternative ways to fund the stadium.

    Officials with Turner Construction Sports, who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting, said they estimate building the stadium would cost about $43 million, including design and construction, demolition of City Hall and a pedestrian crossing connection.


    Yes.tax those visitors Florida,Myrtle Beach do it so well.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    it just boggles the mind to see some of the dumb statements made by the ball park proponents. Even you’ve caught them with their own words.

    Every time they post, they lessen the liklihood the ball park will ever be built. Come to think of it maybe they are Fifth Columnists working under cover to ensure the ball park never gets built.

    They fail to take their own advise which is to remain silent and let the “game” play out in November.

    We knoe what Forrest Gump would say.

  • Vog46 says:

    Thats the difference between a revenue bond (hotel tax) and other financing.
    The city of El Paso may increase the room tax taking the onus off the property taxpayers. If that fails they have to find other financing – it’s NOT automatically gonna be financed by the city. That would also require another vote for a general obligation bond.

    So tell me this Duke.
    Lets assume for arguments sake that the voters in the city of Wilmington decide to increase the hotel room tax come November – if we go to a revenue bond, to pay for the stadium.
    There’s no way to completely build the stadium by 2014 it will be 2015. Does Atlanta stay in the game with us or do they move on to another city?

    Best Regards

  • 1981duke says:

    Did you read this article?
    El Paso is paying,a hotel tax of 2% more,if not the CITY will finance,

    In the approval, council also passed a resolution calling for the stadium project and asking for a hotel occupancy tax increase from 15.5 percent to 17.5 percent to finance it. The hotel tax increase will go to voters for approval in November. If voters reject the hotel tax increase, the city will have to find alternative ways to fund the stadium.

    Officials with Turner Construction Sports, who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting, said they estimate building the stadium would cost about $43 million, including design and construction, demolition of City Hall and a pedestrian crossing connection.


    Please read,before sharing and scaring the “learned”

  • Guesttofferson says:

    “For Cities wanting to get ahead,be progressive and procative.” I think you meant “proactive”, but we’ll let one that slide my intelligent one.

    Being progressive and proactive can only be positively effective if it’s done with proper fore-thought, planning and without knee-jerk reaction to developing property at the taxpayers expense. Otherwise known as being progressive and proactive WITHOUT being stupid and impulsive! There’s a huge difference!

  • Shaun O'Rourke says:

    We already had a occupancy tax raised to build that money pit they call a convention center. No one wants their taxes raised to pay for a stadium when the Braves and Mandalay are sitting on $900 million according to Forbes Magazine. The people will decide this in Nov.

  • Guest? says:

    Do you even know what that is? The tax – often referred to as “tourist tax” – was not raised. Part of the 3% room occupancy tax was simply allocated by the state to pay for the construction and management of the convention center.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    of the river front albatross use this latest entry as justification for that albatross, there are three key points.

    First, different demographics. If you’ve never been to El Paso, they have no beaches or other tourist attractions.

    Second, big difference between AAA and Single A. With AAA, you are pretty certain to see Majro Leaguers either on the home team or visiting team.

    Third, and this is a biggie — the cost of construction will be funded through an increase in the hotel occupancy tax. On that note, the Hotel/Motel Owners Association is opposed. And, it still requires voter approval.

    Let the bags of hot air begin floating with no concrete data.

  • Vog46 says:

    City population of 649,121
    Metro area 800,647

    Occupancy tax is interesting but here its used for the Conv Center and probably beach renourishment.

    Good for El Paso taxpayers, bad for Wilmington taxpayers

    Best Regards

  • Robo says:

    And what has this to do with the Wilmington, NC, issue? Absolutely nothing.

  • 1981duke says:

    For Cities wanting to get ahead,be progressive and procative.

  • Guest211 says:


  • 1981duke says:

    We are just looking at 40-42 million in a public-private investment.
    Growth takes vision and guts to some degree,Kudos El-Paso for getting it done!

  • YesYes says:

    We need baseball!!Maybe Wilming can get progresive like el Paso one day,maybe one day.

  • Vog46 says:

    Explain this:
    Construction cost to El Paso Taxpayers = $0
    Cost To Wilmington taxpayers – $24M to $40M

    If the cost was $0 for Wilmington there’d be no problems with this deal

    “Pay for it and they will come”

    BTW I don’t think this will make it before the voters in November.

    Best Regards

  • Guest 1905 says:

    So why is this news? Another attempt by city council and media to try to justify a ballpark. All of the supporters for baseball should attend the UNCW games if they want to support a team.

  • Logical Thinking says:

    Yet another example of misguided city leaders who want to spend money on the wrong things. Their plan is to tear down a modern, functioning City Hall and put up a baseball stadium in it’s place, with no plans on what to do about relocating City Hall, other than “leasing temporary space”.

  • 1981duke says:

    We progressive people call it “Vision”

  • Vog46 says:

    One thing that our city has is news outlets of varying capabilities. IN order to get a clear picture of just what is going on here you have to go to the Star News, here and WECT. Each outlet reports on this story differently.
    “The lease” and it’s outrageous demand of $50K penalty for failure to complete the stadium on time seems to have taken Council by surprise. Whether it’s a negotiating tactic or not it appears to have soured Council on this deal.
    First the link to the Star news article:

    Here are some snips from this article:
    “Elected leaders contacted by the StarNews initially scoffed when told a lease being proposed by Mandalay and the Braves for a baseball stadium includes completing the building by March 2014 and charging the city $50,000 a day if it’s not done by then.”

    It appears as though Council and the Mayor were taken aback by this.

    “The council has from now until the next meeting on July 10 to come to an agreement with Mandalay and the Braves on a deal for building a potentially $36 million to $42 million stadium.”

    If I read this correctly if no deal is struck by July 10 then this will NOT go forward to a vote in November. Additionally after Raiford Trask pulled out from the deal with Mandalay it now became the city’s responsibility to find a private partner to assist with this deal.

    “If the city doesn’t want to foot the bill entirely, it needs to negotiate with Mandalay for more of a contribution, get help from New Hanover County or find private partners.

    “I don’t know what other private financing is out there,” Padgett said. “Nobody has called me and said I’d like to help pay for this stadium.””

    If the city IS responsible for finding private financing partners now as the above indicates, and as Padgett has indicated no one seems to want to assist in privately funding this would become a moot point at the July 10 council meeting. When Trask et al pulled out it left the city as the sole funding source. The previous funding proposal from Mandalay/Braves was $8M of funding between THEM and Flywheel/Trask.
    Ted Davis has indicated that County Commissioners would not help fund the stadium with county taxpayer dollars, however Commissioner Barfield said they might. This is not a ringing endorsement from county leaders – far from it. I would be surprised (and unpleasantly so) to see the county chipping in on this.

    So we keep coming back to the City and the city alone as the funding source unless Mandalay and the Braves chip in MUCH more than they originally anticipated. I suspect that in order to maintain their 18% profit that they will now put in far less than $8M which included funds from Flywheel Trask. Now that those funds have dried up that 18% profit comes into play here.

    I suspect that unless the city gets a partner that this deal may die on July 10. The previous profit figures were based upon the Braves/Trask/city partnership. Now that Trask has pulled out it boils down to Braves/City and whomever the city can find – which Pagett alludes to being NO ONE. Council man Anderson says the gap in funding without Trask involved is VERY BIG and has to be closed.
    BTW the story doesn’t say this but aren’t we down to 2 potential sites? The MLK corridor is out with the withdrawal of Trask and the Cameron family deals. Eastwood road is out as the owner of THAT property has apparently (I think) said his parcel is out. The Star News article seems to imply that the 2 parcels are down town and Military Cutoff Station road area. That area is highly congested (north of Mayfaire but south of Harris Teeter) and I have to wonder where that parcel actually is.
    Anyway, this is why I believe that this deal will collapse before going to the voters in November. The elected officials know it will get rejected if the city has to pay for the whole thing. The collapse of the private funding deal with Trask is reminiscent of the convention center hotel funding collapses and the city won’t want to go through THAT again. And the Braves need to maintain that 18% profit margin.

    Council would be smart to end this now and ask Fulton McCoy to pull the referendum from the ballot voluntarily.

    Best Regards

  • 1981duke says:

    so much text,so little if any content/
    Please VOG get to the point!

  • 1981duke says:

    Only if we are lucky.

  • ChefNSurf says:

    El Paso vs. Wilmington

    – El Paso has a considerably larger population to draw on
    – El Paso doesn’t have Wilmington’s beaches as a primary attraction
    – Triple A team vs. Single A team (huge difference)
    – Room Occupancy Tax available for financing vs. ROC already being consumed (more quickly than generated) by Wilmington’s existing white elephant, the Convention Center
    – And as Vog so succinctly put it: “Good for El Paso taxpayers, bad for Wilmington taxpayers”.

    Anyone using this article as a justification for a taxpayer funded stadium in Wilmington either has some “skins in the game” they’re not talking about or they’re just not thinking straight. This is a no-brainer.

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