StarNews: Council could consider $42 million baseball bond referendum


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Submitted: Wed, 06/27/2012 - 9:28pm By:

By Shelby Sebens
StarNewsOnline.com

The Wilmington City Council could consider moving forward with a $42 million baseball bond referendum at the next regular meeting on July 10. According to city emails, the council could consider a resolution that would direct staff to publicize a plan to apply for Local Government Commission approval for the general obligation bonds.

But Mayor Bill Saffo says that number is high.

“That’s not a number I feel like at this point I can support,” he said when told about the proposed resolution that he had not seen. He said he does not know where the $42 million came from other than it was the high end of a proposed cost for the baseball stadium.

Click here to read more in the Cape Fear Watchdog$ blog at StarNewsOnline.com

46 Comments

  • Vog46 says:

    One news outlet here in town is reporting that Fulton/McCoy did NOT file an affidavit with the petition in accordance with the city bylaws.
    McCoy says its no problem, and the signatures have been verified by the BOE. This is an interesting turn of events and could give the city a way to approve the stadium without considering the petition or the bond referendum. This of course would be political suicide for any politician. But it definitely shows what happens when you don’t seek legal help in dealing with things like this.
    Fulton and McCoy I hope have learned something through all of this
    Not a peep out of WWAY and Star News on this so far…….which I find odd.

    Best Regards
    Vog

  • Rick Wilson says:

    So…..how many people that do not get to sit in the air conditioned sky boxes want to go watch a single A baseball game in this heat? This can solve many problems. You can lose weight, add to the wealth of Mandalay and the Braves, increase deodorant sales, and increase bug spray sales. Is this the economic boom this stadium will provide? This will also give give job security to EMS and the local hospitals as they care for the heat stroke victims. What a deal! All this for only 42 million dollars and counting……

    I guess the State Legislature can pass another law that does not allow it to get this hot anymore…..

  • 1981duke says:

    Proceed,let us get it passed,built and done.

  • guesty says:

    Whip out your checkbook and pay for it. Leave my tax money out of it.

  • 1981duke says:

    `Vog,
    We are well aware of law,filing etc.
    The City is not going to pass this ordinance without a vote,why would they.
    The petition and ordinance if it passes will negatively all professional sports at City venues.
    The City attorney has spoken,and made the interpretation of the ordinance,and what voter would vote for this when the “end result” is far worse than before.
    Ben and Joshua might seem like “heroes” to a few now,but this petition could be their “Waterloo”,1812 revisited.
    Good Luck,the vote is in our favor and polls show it.

  • Vog46 says:

    The last chance they have is the July 10th meeting Duke.
    All referendum deals have to be completed by then as its the last council meeting before the Aug 1 deadline.
    As a general obligation bond the specifics have to be advertised and the changes to the tax rate have to be set forth in the actual referendum.
    This is not the 5th inning Duke.
    This is the last of the 9th in the first game of a double header.
    If council votes NOT to proceed the second game (bond referendum vote) will be cancelled due to “rain”.
    McCoy and Fulton’s resolution goes forth (unless there is a means for them to retract it).

    Interesting how doubling the city’s current debt brings out the opposition eh?
    And for an entertainment venue at that?
    Sorry but I’d rather give out 5-10 years of property tax breaks to Atlanta. Let them pay for the stadium. Why should we exceed the deals given to PPD and Verizon – for an entertainment facility?

    Best Regards
    Vog

  • 1981duke says:

    Of a nine inning game,watch and see.

  • 1981duke says:

    Just 5th inning of a nine inning game.
    The vote is November,what is the rush?

  • 1981duke says:

    The public will have ample time to view/decide.
    No on shows all their cards this early in the game.

  • OhTheThingsIKnow says:

    Not early. This has been going on for almost 10 months, that I’m aware of. Possibly even longer, behind the scenes. In the beginning, there were several parties interested in providing funding, several parties interested in donating land. One by one, they’ve fallen by the wayside, leaving only Mandalay/Braves, who won’t pay for the stadium, and the City of Wilmington, who can’t afford to pay for it. Everyone else has bowed out.

  • OhTheThingsIKnow says:

    I can’t give any specifics, but let’s just say the Wilmington/Braves honeymoon appears to be over. We’ll find out soon enough if my sources know what they’re talking about or are just blowing smoke.

  • 1981duke says:

    @VOG,
    Quit harping on this,as well as costs.
    We all know this is a major expenditure and decision.
    How do you know there will be no Private sector financing.
    In Dayton,Ohio the Bank paid 3 million over 10 years for naming rights.
    We will have something similar here as well,or better.
    Also do not forget we are jammed here in July/August with Visitors and Tourists,now doubt there might some visitors here with interest.
    Allow the process to work itself our,the “SCARE TACTICS/FEAR CAMPAIGN” is not working.

  • MrT says:

    Your complement is accepted. I hope you realize your missing a great opportunity to fulfill your greatest dream. Just think if the ballpark is built how many guns will need to be sold in Wilmington. I know you would be happy if everybody at the ballpark was packing. We all know how high the national stats are on murders at ball parks all across the the nation. If your packing at the game, your in great shape when you leave the park and stop by your local bar. Could it get any better?

  • Vog46 says:

    Scare? No, not even close.
    Trying to inject a dose of reality into this situation.
    Previous attempts failed due to lack of attendance
    And ANY tax increase to pay for an ENTERTAINMENT venue will fail in today’s uncertain economic times. People are looking to lower taxes not raise them – but they are willing to pay taxes for ESSENTIAL government services.
    This is not ESSENTIAL and therefore will fail !
    If demographics don’t lie then ask yourself this:
    If you’re sitting on $900M, and borrowing costs are at a record low why not build it yourself?
    Keep all advertising dollars generated
    Keep naming rights to the stadium
    Keep all ticket revenues
    Ask the city for a break on property taxes as an incentive to build here

    Atlanta could receive the same deal that PPD did. 7 years property tax free !
    Imagine that?

    Of course they DID imagine that and said the same things we have been saying all along “Nope too much risk”
    Why? because marketing, at it’s core is taking whatever numbers and projections you can come up with and twist them to get a desired end result.
    The REALITY is this – we WOULD pay $ 3.5 cents EXTRA per $100
    All the rest of this is marketing and most people see this as BS. The tax generated, the economic impact the number of jobs created -are all estimates. The tax burden is a hard number.
    I still think Atlanta pulls out….or the Mayor/council rejects the deal out right……..

    Best Regards
    Vog

  • Guest11 says:

    Why do you guys keep saying this same lie over and over – convention center NOT paid for with property taxes. Center paid for with hotel room taxes tourists pay when they stay here. And no, that fund isn’t running short, that is another lie being repeated over and over. Maybe you think people will believe it if you keep saying it over and over because you can’t stand that center is a success and breaking all kind of attendance records because people want to visit Wilmington. Quite denying reality!

  • taxpayer says:

    Maybe it will be Cooperative Bank Stadium…oops…they were taken over by the Feds. How ’bout Cape Fear Bank Stadium…oops…they were taken over by the Feds as well.

    Let’s call it “Wilmington Stadium”…’cause we’ve sure been taken over by the tax & spenders in City Hall.

    Or…Saffo, Sheridan, Anderson, O’Grady, and Haynes Field.

  • Vog46 says:

    You just hung yourself
    The Dayton Dragons are sold out every game for the foreseeable future.
    The NSS report indicates that Wilmingtons stadium will not. In fact they state on page that attendance in 2017 will be 231,000.
    The Dayton drgaons? 8288 per game X 70 = 580,160.

    “In Dayton,Ohio the Bank paid 3 million over 10 years for naming rights”
    Yep they did and for good reason the stadium is sold out.
    We will not be – re-read NSS its right there in black and white

    But if you don’t believe me believd Forbes:
    http://www.forbes.com/2008/08/06/baseball-minors-sacramento-biz-sports-cz_mo_0806minors.html

    “Once MiLB teams with a modern ballpark can get annual attendance up to the 400,000 range, Vataha notes, they can generate significant revenue from sponsors, especially if the team has a modern stadium where luxury suites can be given to sponsors who lavish advertising revenue on the team. Says Vataha, “With a minor league team, you are really running a themed restaurant with a cover charge.” We estimate Dayton, which has 30 suites at its state-of-the-art Fifth Third Field, raked in $2.5 million in sponsorship revenue last season, fourth-most in the minors.”

    NSS says we’re NOT like Dayton – so don’t go there Duke
    Pg 70 Dayton is the 4h LARGEST market by population
    Pg 70 We are the 4th SMALLEST
    Dayton has 4 times the population draw that we do.
    Its all in the NSS report

    This is not fear – its facts.
    Small market
    Small town
    Small profit
    small attendance
    smaller impact

    Its no wonder they’re going general obligation bonds Revenue bonds won’t pay for it.
    Sorry

    Best Regards
    Vog

  • Vog46 says:

    Perhaps we’ll call it Cheater’s Park oh wait that should read Cheatham’s Park

    Yeah that’s right
    We’ll video tape opposing teams to steal their signals.
    Or
    May be we’ll have out own bounty program ! (I’ll give you 50 small ones to dust off their left fielder)

    Best Regards
    Vog

  • 1981duke says:

    “Visionary Field”.
    Has a nice ring,gander as we watch on the River on a Pleasant Day or Evening with Family,Friends.
    Something futuristic,positive and that is not in “your’ vocabularly.

  • 1981duke says:

    As I am not flinching,nor should those on the “pro” side.

  • 1981duke says:

    This is for people living in fear,like many many “naysayers” are doing,try to scare others and Stadium and Braves into submission.

  • Guest2020 says:

    The people of Wilmington saw the convention center for the albatross it is, and they will see this stadium as the albatross it is. They don’t know better when it comes to electing mayors and council members, but they know better when it comes to huge building projects that the city cannot afford. Bill Saffo KNOWS that the city cannot afford this. He said it himself during his campaign. What has changed since then that enables Wilmington to afford it now?

  • Grand Ole Party says:

    Not sure what Vog’s crystal ball says, but mine says you are still a liberal cream puff.

  • Vog46 says:

    I would HOPE that Mandalay/Braves up the ante
    If this costs any more the $15M to the taxpayers they will reject it
    And remember .5% food and beverage is still a tax increase.
    I am fully aware that they are negotiating right up till the meeting and that the final deal will be better than that absurd lease they proposed.

    But given what the Mayor has said about the previous figures AND that Mandaly/Atlanta want to preserve that 18% profit I wonder just how far they will go.
    If it goes to the voters it gets defeated by a big margin
    I still think any deal may fall apart before then

    You asked

    Best Regards
    Vog

  • ChefnSurf says:

    … “crystals” to feel confident enough to so powerfully project that far into your imaginary future.

    I guess if you really love baseball that much, hope springs eternal.

    Congrats on loving the game so much. Condolences on being that unrealistic.

  • Vog46 says:

    Here’s a quote from the blog:

    “The Wilmington City Council could consider moving forward with a $42 million baseball bond referendum at the next regular meeting on July 10. According to city emails, the council could consider a resolution that would direct staff to publicize a plan to apply for Local Government Commission approval for the general obligation bonds.”

    Thats two “coulds” and both indicate our city leaders could consider it.

    But here’s what caught my eye:

    “The proposed resolution, sent from outside legal counsel to city finance director Debra Mack, states the general obligation bond would be for $42 million”

    Outside legal counsel? From where? Mandalay? If so then there are no cuts to the proposed cost.

    ” The issue would have to go on the ballot and voters would have to decide whether they want to pay 3.5 cents per $100 of value more in property taxes.”

    Wheres the beverage tax you refer to? This only addresses property taxes and property taxes alone.
    From outside counsel no less……

    Like I’ve said the mayor said more skin was needed at $32M
    Then the Trask private funding dried up
    Oh and by the way according to the Forbes article stadiums that have consistant attendance above 500,00 per year generate good ad revenue and “naming rights” revenues.
    Otherwise advertising and naming aren’t big deals and this stadium will NOT go over 400,000 – ever according to NSS.

    Best Regards
    Vog

  • Vog46 says:

    Two different referendums.
    The McCoy Fulton resolution HAS to go before voters.
    If the city pursues the stadium and additional general bond referendum will also go before the voters.
    I believe the city can say “No” to Atlanta and would still be required to put the McCoy thing on the ballot.

    Anyone else? Am I correct on this?

    Best Regards
    Vog

  • Guest2020 says:

    I am by no means an expert, but my understanding is that if a citizen’s petition has enough valid signatures on a measure regarding the city, that the city council either votes to pass it, or they have to put it on a referendum. Even if the city council votes against the Mandalay baseball, the petition will still be put to a vote with the citizens of Wilmington.

  • Vog46 says:

    I’m confused by this as well,
    But the main reason for issuing revenue bonds to avoid any statutory debt limits. Wilmington has about $42M in general debt – $33M in general obligation debt and they’re not in danger of approaching their statutory limit, but the don’t want to risk their good credit rating by incurring too much debt
    Why would they propose to increase taxes on property when in fact a revenue bond is paid by the monies generated by the operation of the facility? Can a revenue bond be funded by a designated revenue stream consisting of property taxes?

    Best Regards
    Vog

  • Vog46 says:

    Why not a revenue bond?
    Perhaps it won’t generate enough revenue?
    Lets see $42M over 30 years is $1.4M per year without interest.
    So far the lease indicates $400K annual rent
    Naming rights? a one time deal. Lets say $200K
    Advertising revenues for a field of this size? Maybe $200K
    Ticket tax between $0.50 per ticket to Mt T’s $1 pr ticket = lets go with $200K

    Thats $1.0M per year and does NOT include salaries for employees who I assume would be government or quasi government employees.
    So we’re $400M short on day one
    Take away the naming rights (a one time deal) then we are short $600M per year
    This is just WAG on my part but when you add in interest on the bonds and cost of employees AND the 18% profit the Braves want then it looks impossible to get a revenue bond to work. Also if there is an economic impact locally THAT revenue doesn’t count as the revenue from the operation is the means by which the bond is repaid.
    I’ve thought all along that the Wilmington area is too small to support a stadium and team profitably and the only way the Braves can make money off of it is to limit the amount of money they spend pushing more of the burden on the city.
    The general obligation bonds do just that push the financial burden on the property owners.
    The revenue bonds push the onus on the success of the endeavor. In other words the marketing people had better be right and that it will be wildly popular.
    Given our past with the Roosters the Mayor/Council see that the odds are it won’t be as profitable as the marketing folks think.
    My question is if the Revenue bonds don’t get paid who is on the hook for that?

    Best Regards
    Vog

  • concerned citizen says:

    General obligation bonds are used by municipalities to raise money for a library a city hall. It is for non revenue producing projects. These bonds are backed by taxes from assessed value from property owners. So this is where im confused.. If Revenue bonds were issued then the money that is made from the project until the bonds mature would be used to pay the bond holders. You get this money from the use of the park. The city would get there ballpark the people that would never use the place will never have to pay for it and the people that use it will not mind that some of the proceeds go to paying back the bond holders.. this is not rocket science its business….

  • Guest 2 says:

    What a complete and total waste of time!!!! Leave my tax as it is (it’s already too high) and don’t expect me to support baseball. Baseball has to be the most boring game on the planet, and I wouldn’t go to one of your games if you paid me.

  • Guest 10101 says:

    … all the Northern invaders will vote for it?

    So I guess you’re also saying that the majority of Wilmington’s population, and by default, its voters, are Northern invaders?

    What a giant pile of stupid.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    …put it on a bond referendum and it will pass with ease.

    All of the Northern invaders moved here to escape high taxes, yet they will vote for any idiotic bond referendum on the ballot.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    I wouldn’t be calling anyone stupid.

  • OhTheThingsIKnow says:

    This deal is dead. Burial services will be within the next two weeks.
    Condolences to Chuck and Terry.

  • MrT says:

    and you could very well be right. Would you care to supply some facts along with the prediction or are you just throwing out of left field?
    If you are right which is doubtful one would think the supper snoops at WWAY would be all over this!! Wonder why someone on council hasn’t dropped this info just to score political points?

  • 1981duke says:

    For those who will miss opening day here in April 2014.
    I am so glad that the “naysayer’ side feels this way,the “pro’ side always likes a good game,we will turn this one into a rout!

  • Vog46 says:

    Here’s what you said:

    “@VOG,
    Quit harping on this,as well as costs.
    We all know this is a major expenditure and decision.
    How do you know there will be no Private sector financing.
    In Dayton,Ohio the Bank paid 3 million over 10 years for naming rights.
    We will have something similar here as well,or better.
    Also do not forget we are jammed here in July/August with Visitors and Tourists,now doubt there might some visitors here with interest.
    Allow the process to work itself our,the “SCARE TACTICS/FEAR CAMPAIGN” is not working.”

    Of course you want me to stop harping on cost.
    Don’t you get it Duke?
    This has NOTHING to do with baseball
    It has everything to do with debt/debt service and taxes.
    Mandalanta announced that Trask pulled out and that private financing was NOT on the table for them it was up to the city to find private financing. According to Laura Padgett no new partners have come forth as of last week.
    I sure hope they do find LOT of private financing. Like $40M worth.
    This upcoming election will be about spending.
    Not empty promises of revenues or economic impact.
    Its debt, present and future
    You can spew all the promises of growth and and economic impact that you want. If we have to pay to get there then we won’t vote for it.
    Came back when we’re out of debt and have funds in the bank.
    Come back when the Team wishing to move here is willing to pay for it.
    We’ll be glad to let them keep ALL the revenues from advertising
    We’ll be glad to let them name the stadium

    Come back when you have 100% financing and WANT to be here without having to ask us to pay for it.
    We want baseball here – after we have our financial house in order.
    Best Regards
    Vog

  • 1981duke says:

    @Vog,
    You like me are “bloggers”,and whereas you are against,I am for as you are aware.This goes to vote in November and you are politicing way too early.
    we have 4 full months till election,and do you really think City has seen “best offer” from Mandalay.
    You think you know,you think the “deal’ is dead and will not sweeten,so just sit back and watch as our “Area Demographics,Per Capita income and 90,000-100,000 more people projected here by 2022 in New HANOVER,BRUNSWICK,PENDER so you can kick around what you want.
    Mandalay has 6 other profitable franchises,The Braves are one of Baseball’s most revered names,known for excellence and a long term committment to Wilmington so in the end the “stronger” parties will prevail but rest assured this is the middle,not end of a nine inning game.
    Just sit back and watch,the action is with the public…..not the blog.
    WE AS A COMMUNITY WOULD BE FOOLISH TO PASS THIS UP.
    SUCKERS WE ARE NOT,WE HAVE VISION FOR “WHAT CAN/WILL” BE WHAT ‘it will not be”.
    Cry me a river please,go and make some more “scare stories” for those on the “Fear’ side.

  • 1981duke says:

    That they can answer

  • taxpayeriam says:

    Look at the latest city that filled for bankruptcy,today
    raised taxes to much,built baseball stadium bought property and buildings for government office ect ect.
    They have a population over 300,000 thousand people.It looks like our local government can not see past their —.
    Vote no unless you are ready to find another town to be able to afford to live in.
    my turn your turn

  • Vog46 says:

    At $32M you said Mandalay and Atlanta had to have more skin in the game. At $42M you say you’re not comfortable with that number.
    Yet every poll says we’d LIKE baseball here but we don’t want to PAY for baseball here. Both scientific and non scientific polling shows this to be true.
    End this farce on July 10 – vote to NOT let this go to a referendum and let it die a quick death. The ONLY option is full payment by Mandalanta.
    If you and council vote for continuation of this effort at the level of $42M you will have committed a gross failure in your fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers in this city.
    I hope Mandalay can come in with something thats better than the previous deal.
    Otherwise it shouldn’t even have to go before the voters.

    Best Regards
    Vog

  • Guest Lineman says:

    State law requires that they adopt the resolution as a city ordnance or let it go to a public referendum. Ignoring it is not an option.

  • MrT says:

    You may have missed the word could( it’s used several times in the watch dog blog) in your haste to write another essay. You like many others need only to hold your horses just a few more days and let the deal come forward.
    If I had a crystal ball it might say.

    1. They will take some of the special features out of the stadium proposal similar to what Greensboro and Winston Salem did and lower to over-all cost.
    2. Mandalay/Braves will up the ante by increasing the lease years or payment schedule
    3. The city will get the advertising and naming rights for the stadium.
    4. The city will get $1 per ticket tax.
    5. The finances will come from either .5% food and beverage or about 1.5 cent on $100 dollar evaluation General Revenue Bonds.
    I also predict that if the issue makes it to a vote, the citizens of Wilmington will support It and the stadium will be built in the downtown area.
    Now Vog, whats your little crystal ball say?

  • Vog46 says:

    Please go so that the naysayers can proceed to get this project killed off once and for all. Your blind allegiance to baseball and or Mandalanta has clouded your vision.
    Its way too hot for me to advise you to take a walk outside fora breath of fresh air so stay inside.
    Google Port City Roosters check the news articles about the attendance at those games.
    Google Wilmington Convention Center and see how many public functions they have scheduled for this summer.
    Then Google crime statistics and see why down town is considered a high crime area.

    UNLESS there’s a huge new partner we don’t know about which is highly doubtful (I’m talking bigger than Trask) then the supporters of baseball have a big problem. Duke Mayor Safffo wanted more Mandalanta skin in the game at $32M. He couldn’t support it at $42M.
    Please don’t feign indignation if Council/Mayor reject this deal on July 10.

    Best Regards
    Vog

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