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ONLY ON 3: Mayor Saffo discusses latest baseball developments

READ MORE: ONLY ON 3: Mayor discusses latest ballpark developments, petition rejection

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- In an exclusive live interview, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo talked with WWAY about the latest developments in the discussions on a ballpark for the Port City. Among the topics he discussed were the bond referendum City Council is considering to pay for the ballpark, citizen feedback and input on the plan and the rejection of a petition with thousands of signatures opposing taxpayer funding for the project.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.


free ball

Once again the people of Wilmington want something for.nothing. Just like those stuck up folks who run Wrightsville beach. Spending a little money to improve the city would help its image. Right now its just a a place gang bangers go to kill each other.

Vog -- Get Real

Hey Man Life is short and you seem so consumed by details you have not even seen yet. The details you take so much time to describe are mere discussion at this point. To date all reported information is little more than bits and pieces of speculation. Not anything is set and when the City is ready they will let us know and the citizens will get to determine the value in Nov. A few weeks back I presented my crystal ball predictions and so far I'm doing pretty good. Take a break man when it comes together you might even like it?
Best Regards!!

Mr. T

I quoted the survey
I crunched the numbers giving a range of possibilities
Those ARE real Mr. T

I will support the stadium if we go back to Mandalays original proposal whereby the construction costs were paid for by private investment.
That when I'l like it


Mr Flip/Flop

A few weeks back you were supporting a 15 million dollar number as an acceptable amount for the city and you felt the citizens would support.
Now your at zero. Did you forget what you said. That's ok, you have only written a million words on the subject. Why would anyone expect you to remember it all?
Best Regards

Mr T

VOG is all about 'sensationism'amd 'hype' not facts


Unlike you and non taxpayer Duke I will research a subject and change my mind accordingly. I had overlooked the fact that initially and before the NSS survey came out Mandalay had said private investment had the entire construction costs covered.
That changed after April.
Shoot me..........

Best Regards

I love marketing people

I love marketing people. I love them because they tell such distorted facts.
I go back to “the survey” that Duke, Mr. T and other baseball PROponents use as their basis for “demographics don’t lie” schtick. It is here:
I also want to thank the poster who recently said something that piqued my interest. He said something to the affect that a 3.5 cent per hundred tax increase would only amount to $70 tax increase annually for a $200,000 home. But the survey is disingenuous in that it breaks down what people are willing to pay extra PER MONTH. First the survey results and I will try to keep it simple:
47% supported private public financing
40% did not. But then the question of how much you’d be willing to pay came up.
$4-6 increase per month had 19% willing to pay
$2-4 increase had 16% willing to pay
$2 increase had 18% willing to pay
So lets figure out using that same $200,000 house just how much support a $42M bond has. They claim its 3.5 cents per 100 of valuation. I will calculate using half cent increments and bring it down to a monthly cost per house
3.5 cents per $100 = $5.83/month
3.0 cents per $100 = $5.00/month
2.5 cents per $100 = $4.16/month
2.0 cents per $100 = $3.33/month
1.5 cents per $100 = $2.50/month
1.0 cents per $100 = $1.66/month
It would appear as though we would have to get that bond down to the 1.0 to 1.5 cent per $100 rate to have ANY chance to pass. A rough guess would mean a bond of $10M - $15M
But the funny thing was the survey was not exclusive to city residents - 31% of the survey respondents WOULD NOT HAVE TO PAY THE TAX INCREASE because they were county residents.
So a minority (47%) wants pub/pri financing and of that, 1/3 were NON city residents, and of that group NO ONE would pay for a $42M bond. In fact only 1/5 of the respondents want to pay for a stadium in the $20M price range.
This is your survey Duke - the one you keep pointing to…….and YOU are not a resident either. But I wonder about this survey. It seems that in April we had 100% private financing. After the survey came out saying we’d be willing to pay “something” private financing dried up? Are we THAT naïve?
Best Regards

Close but not close enough

Your analysis close,but "deal" not finished.

You forgot incomes of-
$400,000 rent annually by Mandalay for City.
Percentage of concession sales at stadium
Ticket incentive,back to city..
Parking Revenues back to city..

So you left out alot.

YOU also left out $10-11 million+++ of "new" sales tax revenue for the city annually.

So you have alot to do,you also have to remember the"deal" is going to change,Mandalay here next week with City.
So be patient,the costs going Down all the time,without changing quality of the"stadium" or "product" for consumers.


"So be patient,the costs going Down all the time"

Construction costs covered by private investors according to Mandalay in April. Now they could be as high as $42M(minus cost of land buy)
Anything above a 0 is an increase from April
So how are costs going down?

Answer the questions:
How is this different than the Port City Roosters?
How come private investors have abandoned this project since April?
Why should we listen to YOU a person who doesn't live, or pay taxes here?

Best Regards

I did DUKE

for a reason
My tax numbers are hard numbers that's what it would cost the taxpayers depending upon how big the bond will be.
Your numbers are projections
I then compared my hard numbers to that professional survey you're so fond of to show that NO ONE in YOUR survey would support $42M.
IN fact you'd have to get that figure down to $10M to $15M to get even close to having support, again, BASED UPON YOUR SURVEY.

So answer the questions Duke-
Why is this different from the Port City Roosters?
Why did private financing which would have paid for the entire stadium construction costs - go away from April to July?

And when you move to Wilmington and have a dog in this fight let us know Duke


you asked...

Roosters,were always to be "temporary" here,came for 2 years maximum as Mobile,Alabama was building them a "new" stadium.
They played at UNCW and had to share field for games,practices and could not sell beer,which is a huge revenue-maker.
As far as private financing I think key"private investors" involved Wilmington as "frugal" ROI might take longer.
Lastly---I live here ,have since 1991.
As far as costs,there will be some tax-liability,my calculated guess $4.00 per month per tax-payer.
If we can not invest this int ourselves,no one else will.

Pay city taxes Duke?


“As far as costs, there will be some tax-liability, my calculated guess $4.00 per month per tax-payer.”
From your survey:
$4-6 increase per month had 19% willing to pay
So – you think it will pass? Your own survey says the VAST majority would OPPOSE this level of taxation. The 40% who are against paying anything and those willing to pay ONLY less than $4 month.

Of course if this survey WERE done professionally then they would have surveyed only those affected by the tax increase to get a better idea.

Do you pay city of Wilmington property taxes Duke?
Are you willing to admit that the Port City Roosters were a failed attempt at minor league baseball?
Are you willing to admit that private investment dried up due to fears this wouldn’t work out?

Every Mayor in the past decade has talked about baseball here. Saffo, Broadhurst and Peterson. It’s a failed dream – the Roosters proved it. Building a stadium would make that dream a nightmare.

Best Regards

Very true

From duke: "If we can not invest this int ourselves,no one else will."

You finally figured it out, there are no private investors lining up for the "gem" because they are not in business to lose money. That is why you are pushing so hard for tax money to be used.

Smart business people are in business to make money, not lose it.

Wrong Duke

Hank Aaron stadium was started before the Port City Roosters even started playing here. The city of Mobile paid half and a private developer paid half (he already owned another AA franchise by the way).
Minor league teams move around a lot, like the Roosters, which makes me skeptical about this deal. But make no mistake about why they left.
WWAY, WECT and the Star News all attributed the demise of the Port City Roosters to low attendance -which was confirmed by team officials. They were NOT temporary. They came, they failed they moved.
We just don't support minor league baseball Duke.
Attendance at Port City games was UNDER 1000 folks Duke, and don't blame it on them having a poor team either. Thats not the draw for attendance at minor league games.
Nope sorry "frugality" is not the reason why private investors would have pulled out Duke. LOSING their investment is. Or, they saw that some tax dollars were available so they pulled out as the risk was too great. If the risk was too great that means there's a good chance the investment would NOT have paid off. We went from totally privately paid stadium to - what? At your property tax figure of $4month means $30M or so? Please try to explain AGAIN the loss of all private funding

You say you live here. Do you pay city property taxes? (since you like to split words).

I do. I have a dog in this fight. I had kids that went through the schools here. I still pay for those schools and I'm glad to do so as education is part of infrastructure IMHO. Just like Police fire, water sewer...heck even city government.
Do I want to PAY for THIS ball park? NOPE - not a dime. If Atlanta and investors wants to? That's fine, glad to have them here. That's what the initial deal was, as announced by Mandalay.
Anything else should get voted down.......

Best Regards

Here are the Facts Pal

I love people who "think" they are right.
But as far as Port City Roosters,you are dead wrong..
1994---Nashville Express--AA
1995---Port City Roosters-AA-attendance-110,233
1996---Port City Roosters-AA-attendance-68,423
1997-2006--Mobile Bay Bears-AA

The Roosters became the Bears in 1997 and opened up brand new Hank Aaron Stadium 6,000 capacity is 1997.
This is the reason for the move to Mobile,after 1995 here the Roosters knew the City of Wilmington would not come through and UNCW was not the place to be.
So we failed the Roosters not them failing us,my kids also in school play ball here and now the time/climate/venue is on our side.
Get your facts in line please

Try again Duke:

OK Duke here it is:
Nov 2 1995 – a new ballpark is being built in mobile. Here’s the news article:
There was NO TEAM yet. In fact the article says AA ball coming to Mobile.
Now here’s the Star News a year later on May 30. 1996:
The deal was not completed yet for the sale of the PCR to this new owner
The Roosters were NOT temporary. The Mariners sold them because of poor attendance.
Best Regards


The stadium in Mobile was started in 1995. The owner of that stadium had another baseball team AA I believe, along with a hockey franchise.
The Mobile newspaper ran the article saying no team but he's starting a stadium.
The Port City Roosters were going to stay here if attendance was good and he was gonna move the AA team to Mobile. When attendance here tapered off he moved the Roosters instead.
We failed them.
Minor league baseball for 3 years in Wilmington does NOT JUSTIFY the spending of ANY taxpayer dollars for ANY stadium.
But especially not for a team with poor attendance already.
Funny ow you pointed out average attendance and not the Hillcats attendance. You see Duke - we're not getting the average team Duke we're getting a poorly attended team. Further justification for NOT approving this deal.
You earn a new stadium with our tax dollars - you don't get it up front.
Sorry but critical thinking is required for decisions like this based upon empirical data not estimates and best guesses and flawed surveys.
The Hillcats are poorly attended, coming to a city with past attendance problems and failed teams. We have no business even thinking about risking taxpayer dollars for this.
If we were talking about the Port City Roosters, or the Wilmington Waves, or Duke's Dogs - who were here for 15 years by now, and were outgrowing Brooks field, I'd be in line to approve this stadium. Now, if Mandalanta decides to build it themselves? I got no problem with that either and would welcome the baseball team.
Best Regards


Have you taken the time to calculate the amount of retail sales it will take to generate $10-11 Million in sales tax? @6%, it will take $166 Million in retail sales to generate the amount of "new" sales tax revenue you cite. Not going to happen.

The other figures you cite, rent, percentage of concession, ticket incentive, parking revenue, etc...purely speculative on your part. But the "new" sales tax revenue...a "pie-in-the-sky" figure.


A question.......
City buys the land and builds the stadium

The private developer puts say, a 155 room high class hotel on the site.
Which is more beneficial for economic development?
All hotel guest are over nighters
All would be out of towners
All would generate room taxes, meal taxes and sales taxes
The hotel would operate 365 days per year versus 70 days per year
The hotel corp would pay property taxes.

The pro baseball folks are not doing effective cost revenue analysis for any other business that might want to build on that property. What if it could be used in a better way?

Best Regards

The Sales Tax figure

Is based on a variety of demographic factors,that the USA government usses to qualify people for large lending.
It is conservative,as you are talking "increases" due to an average of 5,000 fans per gamex 70 games and all the retailers/hotels/services/businesses who would benefit from "new customers".
Overall,it is conservative,not agressive.


You must have your head somewhere other than sitting between your shoulders.


Yeah I agree with THAT.
First of all attendance is NOT going to be 5,000 per game even the NSS survey said that.
Second, the fan base is within 35 miles, so no big increase in hotel room taxes. Everything is is a guess.
My property tax figures are hard and are dependent upon how "good" the deal turns out to be.
Duke just doesn't "get it"
A $42M bond guarantees a tax increase of 3.5 cents per 100
But as the Stockton Calif situation points out, a minor league baseball and a stadium does not guarantee economic development and increases in revenues.....

Best Regards

This is not STOCKTON pal..

no I do get it,you do not and continue to insert that "scare" into others,we have done the math and the market is "ripe' here.
You have no marketing expertise,and so shoot in this all the holes you want.
It is the right product,right place,right time for Wilmington to seize the opportunity.
Why not be a part of "future success".
The numbers/demographics are solid,whether you believe this or not.

Nice diversion Duke

No this is not Stockton
This is Wilmington NC
Home to two that's right 2 failed, minor league baseball teams.
Attendance was pitiful.

3 years total baseball time here Duke, when the league average is 34 years in each established city.
My marketing skills Duke? Oh I'm NOT gonna debate that with you.
But you make one grievous error Duke. You assume I'm anti baseball.
Far from it.
I am against using taxpayer dollars to fund this. I'm against building a stadium for a team that has very poor attendance records. If those attendance numbers hold here in Wilmington then the economic impact is highly over stated. Considering their attendance the stadium as proposed is too big and therefore too costly.
I'm actually hopeful that it gets done at no cost to taxpayers. Heck I might even take in a game or two with my grandson.
But you can't answer the questions:
Is 3 cents 10% of 30 cents?
Why is this different from the PCR and Wilmington Waves?
Why are you commenting on this when you're NOT a city taxpayer.
Why does the NSS report estimate attendance where will be double what it is currently in Lynchburg?

I will welcome baseball here should it not cost me anything

Best Regards

No that is your place

No we are all balanced,be a "naysayer" and that is fine,see you in line April 2014 for game 1.

I'm not a "naysayer"...

to baseball. I grew up watching the Pittsburgh Pirates...Stargell, Clemente, and Mazeroski. I'm a "naysayer" to taxpayer dollars being used. Like children went through elementary, middle, and high school here. All three graduated in the top 2% of their class, then on to college.

Your usage of figures that are a best-case scenario leave far too much room for failure. You say you live here...but do you pay City property taxes?


The plan is solid.let it ride outas this something "never seen here".
If you and kid played baseball you should support and the tax liability most likely very low,so what is the problem?
And no mater where you live,City or County or another state that means "nothing" All that matters is solid business decisions.

It is not a solid business

It is not a solid business decision to gamble with money you do not have. Saffo said himself when he was campaigning for re-election that Wilmington could not afford a taxpayer funded stadium. Since that time I haven't heard of the city generating enough money to change that opinion. Can anyone out there explain why Wilmington couldn't afford it then, but Wilmington can afford it now?

It means everything

County residents don't pay city property tax. You want to use city property tax to pay for a stadium. You don't own property, you don't pay any property tax which is why you are so eager to spend money you don't contribute to.


I wouldn't doubt if the city hires Mexicans to build this stadium, while perfectly able body moochers that live in the housing projects get to sleep in! Wilmington is officially the Detroit of the south, just drive over to Long Leaf park and witness hoards of roaming homeless, crack heads and stray animals!!