Ballpark supporters: Where have they been?


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Submitted: Thu, 07/12/2012 - 11:51pm
Updated: Fri, 07/13/2012 - 6:24pm By:

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — We’ve heard a lot lately from those against building a tax-funded ballpark in the Port City, but not much from those who support it. Thursday, we asked them why they have been MIA.

At Wilmington City Council meetings, there are always at least two or three people who speak out against the stadium, but not many have come forward to rally support.

Jim Hundley, the spokesperson for the Wilmington Ballpark Coalition, says he hopes to start more of a grass roots campaign to support their effort and City Council’s push to move the project forward.

“We’ve not been speaking publicly about it. We’ve been working kind of behind the scenes with the business community and the people that support it,” Hundley said. “It’s going to take a lot of people to get this done, but we still remain optimistic and think it’s a good deal for the city.”

John Hinnant, the executive director of Wilmington Downtown Inc., says both those for and against the stadium will make a more prominent stance once more facts come out.

“What is this whole package going to look like? How much is it going to cost? What’s the site going to be?” Hinnant said. “Now that some of the details are starting to get finalized, until we know all the details, it’s hard to advocate for something you don’t know about. I think they’re taking a more strategic approach in the sense that it’s better to have the details and better to have the information. It’s better to have the city work through the process.”

WWAY also spoke with Chris Fernandez, the founder of Portcitybaseball.com. He says they are still here and still talking with people and businesses to get on board in supporting a stadium.

43 Comments

  • Vog46 says:

    I have been reading the “lovefest” between Chuck and Terry on the SNO facebook forum. Watching the two of them gang up on anyone anti baseball is fun to watch.
    As for the supporters and where they’ve been this article is correct in that they are waiting to see what the final proposal is before commenting.
    This should tell you something. It tells you that they are not convinced by NSS/Mandalay that in fact baseball is GOOD for the city, otherwise they’d have been “out” already, touting the team and stadium. The same goes for the chamber meeting. It was contentious because they’re not all convinced and they are wondering why the numbers aren’t hard yet.
    This is interesting to watch. Downtown businesses themselves are torn on this. The bars see the stadium selling beer as an infringement on their business. The Cotton Exchange closes its retail operations at 530 most nights. Heck even Paddy’s Hollow is closed at 900 or 930 (too late for an after a night game drink).
    I don’t “see it” – I don’t see the economic impact numbers from NSS/Mandalay making sense. The attendance figures are too high given our population and therefore all economic impact is overstated.
    Best Regards
    Vog

  • Vog46 says:

    Supporters say Wilmington is a baseball town. In spite of a failed AA level team and a failed A level team. Here’s how other Carolina League teams have faired staying put…….
    Team………………..year founded….in existence
    Carolina Mudcats……….1978……………34 years
    Fredrick Keys………….1989……………23 years
    Lynchburg Hillcats……..1963……………49 years
    M Beach Pelicans……….1998……………14 years
    Potomac Nationals………1978……………34 years
    Salem Red Sox………….1968……………44 years
    Wilington (Del) Blue Rocks1993……………19 years
    W/Salem Dash…………..1945……………67 years

    /A lot of these teams changed their affiliations over the years or were bought and sold – but they were established. The major league teams could look at Lynchburg and say “baseball is pretty popular there we can build a stadium and make it work”
    In other cases (like Winston Salem) the team played at a college field first and out grew that field but in most of the case these teams were located near large population areas. Potomac is near DC, Fredrick is near Alexandria VA and Washigton, Carolina Mudcats – Zebulon/Raleigh.
    They played, they got established, then they got good stadiums.
    We seem to be putting the cart before the horse. WE are building the Taj Mahal in the hopes it will be filled. Yet, the team we’re getting is very disappointing in the attendance figures. Our history with Mil-A ball says we don’t support that level of play.
    But the proponents want to charge ahead in spite of our history. Its kinda like doing test marketing. After two attempts once has to wonder if the product is worth the effort.
    Of course what we’re offering here is to pay for the test marketing in spite of our past failures. The chances are we’ll fail again – only this time we’ll be on the hook for up to $42M and you know what? After 3 failed attempts how many other teams will look at us? NONE !
    So why build it? Its not like a hotel. A hotel fails – the building is still there – another chain could come in and take over, or it could be renovated for other businesses. A stadium is a basically a single purpose building for sport and other outdoor events. It would have to be demolished and entirely rebuilt to suit a new business.
    History says established teams do well with new stadiums
    History says we don’t support minor league baseball
    And although Terry and Chuck would like to do it – you can’t change history…..

    Best Regards
    Vog

  • 1981duke says:

    You get one vote,use it wisely.

  • 1981duke says:

    much smaller market,continue to scare-em VOG as this fall plenty of time to debate so burn all your “scare tactics’ now while WWAY supports your tunnel vision.

  • Guest2020 says:

    Then you will have a situation like the convention center. The council negotiated and signed a contract knowing that the people were against it. And then claimed that since they had signed the contract they were obligated to go through with it. They did this after the public voted against it. Now you want to let them negotiate and sign a contract then get voter approval. It just won’t fly and that is not the proper way to do it. If there is such a time constraint, then they should consider holding a special election to determine the voter opinion. You would be shelling out taxpayer money for it, but it would save money in the long run.

  • Vog46 says:

    I posted this on the Star news forums

    Carolina league. The names of the teams and the major league parent team may change but these teams and their cities have a long history:
    Team…………………………….year founded…total years
    Carolina Mudcats…………..1978……………….34years
    Fredrick Keys………………….1989………………..23 years
    Lynchburg Hillcats…………..1963………….49 years
    M Beach Pelicans……………1998………………..14 years
    Potomac Nationals………….1978…………………34 years
    Salem Red Sox…………………1968………………..…44 years
    Wilmington Blue Rocks…1993……………19 years
    Winston Salem Dash……….1945……………….67 years
    These teams and their host cities have a long history. League average? 35 years. We have 3 years and two teams worth of failures. There is no evidence to suggest we are a baseball city.
    Best Regards
    Vog

  • 1981duke says:

    Cause you do not know what to look for,we have never had anything here like this ever…stat starpped in you might become a season tix holder

  • Vog46 says:

    Be very careful who you assume doesn’t know what to look for.

    Those that can – do
    Those that can’t – become consultants

    Again.
    The NSS numbers over state attendance by 50% over most other cities having Milb-A level ball. This is the number Mandalanta has to overcome.
    If they want to proceed they have to come up with the funding to build the stadium at no cost to taxpayers.
    Yeah, I know I’ve heard the stories already from Terry & you.
    Borrowing costs are at an all time low so it should pose no problem for Atlanta (or Atlanta and a consortium of partners) to build this stadium. Business wise there are no impediments to Atlanta doing this. They have the money, the credit line, and the business acumen to make this work. They can keep all the revenue and just pay property taxes to the city and county.
    Yes I’m aware that the city can raise the revenue required through taxation. The question is why WON’T Atlanta do it? Think about this Duke – think HARD.
    If this was SUCH a great investment why won’t Atlanta (and friends) fund it? The answer is quite simple really. They don’t see the attendance and other uses generating enough revenue to justify “private only” funding. That’s Business 101 Duke.
    From our taxpayer standpoint – we ALSO see this as an attendance issue. We wonder why NSS thinks our interest is so much greater than other cities when our past indicates a much LOWER interest in actually going to games. Waves/Roosters ring a bell? But you don’t understand OUR side Duke because you’re not a city taxpayer. We are currently paying $0.37 per $100 of valuation and you are asking for it to INCREASE a whopping 10% of the current rate (your number -estimated 3 cent increase). This so Atlanta can make 18% profit? We don’t trust the NSS numbers, sorry Duke. Why? Because:
    Those that can – do
    Those that can’t – become consultants

    And those that should comment on this are the ones that will be paying for it – and that DOES NOT include you.

    Oh I see it Duke – I see it very clearly. I don’t understand our push for baseball given our past failures.

    By the way no number needed…….
    How long a lease term should Atlanta have? I’m curious as to your take on this.

    Best Regards
    Vog

  • Wilmington Observer says:

    I do not want my (tax) money spent on baseball……. of any kind.

    Wilmington Observer

  • Vog46 says:

    There is no question some people love baseball and that the Braves are a great organization.
    But if ANY property tax dollars are used then we are socializing the risk to insure the profits for a private enterprise. This is an outrageous government intrusion into the private marketplace.
    If Wilmington was SO attractive we’d have a team already – ooops they moved due to poor attendance.
    If the deal was so attractive, there’d be no reason to have to go for ANY general obligation bonds because private investment would clamor, no, they’d COMPETE for the opportunity to get in on this investment.

    OOOOoooppps – because of baseballs previous failure they have apparently pulled out.
    No matter which way you slice it and dice it – this is an entertainment venue. Our government socializes certain operations for the betterment of all. This includes water, sewer, roads, police, fire and other infrastructure.
    The ballpark is not infrastructure, its not for the good of all. Government has no right, except for offering possible tax breaks, to invest in this project. It has limited appeal but the tax ramification affect us all (except Duke). Construction and land costs should be borne by private investors.
    I’m all for giving some incentives but I’m against the city bearing any direct costs for this

    Best Regards
    Vog

  • anne says:

    Yes – the supporters are out there quietly working. On the other hand, the non-supporters are publicly working on their case and have therefore drawn the attention of the Mayor and councilmen and women. You residents have been stuck with some sorry excuses for representatives. They have decided, even against the wishes of the people they represent, that there will be a ballpark. Come November, you need to let them know, by voting, just how you feel. I just wonder if the referendum fails what will happen then.

  • PFR says:

    for once I agree with Hinnant. We need to see the details first. But THAT is exactly the problem. By the time they show the public the details it will be too late. They need to negotiate this and then give a public timeperiod to digest and comment.
    There is a fine line between negotiating in private for efficiency sake and ramming something through a blindsided public.

  • Vog46 says:

    Lost in all of this is the fact that the Atlanta Braves are not coming here to play. Its the Lynchburg Hillcats. I started going through the box scores for attendance figures and lets just say hey weren’t too great. Calvin Falwell field has a capacity of 4,000. There were some good attendance numbers on SOME weekend games but during the week? Those numbers were pathetic. In some cases there were under 1000 people attending the games. The 2012 average for Lynchburg is 2343 per game in a 4000 seat stadium.
    http://www.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?t=l_att&lid=122&sid=l122

    And we’re gonna build THEM a 6400 seat stadium? And expect 5000 people per game according to Terry Spence?
    The “Waves” are rolling in again and the Port City Roosters are “crowing”.
    We must be out of our collective minds
    All I can say is, if they build this thing we better hold them to a 30 year lease

    Best Regards
    Vog

  • guesty says:

    I doubt that he owns any property, he just wants something for nothing.
    Typical sponge, wants more and more.

  • 1981duke says:

    What is your excuse,you do not have to “pay-taxes’ to know a great business deal when you see one.

  • Guest461 says:

    Ol’ Dukie Poo constantly throws darts and criticizes others but consistenly writes without using a space bar, accurate spelling or even 3rd grade grammar. A paid troll, likely a riverswill property owner that is counting on dumping his contaminated dirt into the taxpayers pockets for outrageous dollars.

  • guesty says:

    Do you pay property tax in Wilmington? All of the pro-baseball people want the team to be here yet very few of you support the team that is currently here. We don’t care if they come, we just don’t want tax money used to build a stadium. Did you go to high school? Can you form a proper sentence with correct punctuation?

  • guesty says:

    I own property in Wilmington, it is MY money that you are wanting to spend. It is a great business deal for those that don’t have to put any money in, not so great for those of us that will be on the hook to pay for it.

    I’m not sure what my excuse is for wasting my time trying to explain simple finances and the way of the world to you. It is obvious it is beyond your comprehension level.

  • 1981duke says:

    We have more positive statements that this will work,continue to scare them..we love to see you ANGRY,in that case we will make sure each team has red unifirms for you to wear………….OH BOY A LIVE WIRE you are.

  • Vog46 says:

    It’s 10% increase from $0.37 per hundred
    For an entertainment venue that not every tax payer supports.
    I know what you’re trying to do..

    Here’s the “pro” side argument about the tax increase:
    Its only “X” amount per month…..
    Anyone can afford that and if you can’t well move…..
    Give up coffee and you can pay for the stadium……

    Here’s more pro side arguments for the park:
    “We’re smart and we know whats best for Wilmington”……..
    “We have vision for Wilmington – the opponents don’t”…….
    “the Tax benefits are too complex for you to understand”…………
    “We see the large picture”………
    And one of my favorites:
    “It will work with the synergies of the north side”……
    OH MY GOODNESS………..enough with sound bites!!! Most of you sound like paid shills for Mandalanta.
    The Braves are moving a seemingly unpopular team here that has limited attendance, and asking us to build a stadium that’s 50% bigger to boot! Unlike OTHER Potential tax sources they are asking ALL taxpayers to fund this through General Obligation (property tax) bonds. Why not an enterprise zone tax down town? Let property and business owners there pay more? They are the ones that will profit from this? Right?
    Later on I’ll tell you why I don’t think this works as I did some research over the weekend…..

    Best Regards
    Vog

  • guesty says:

    Because those of us that actually pay property taxes have jobs to go to. You should check in on getting a job. Once you have a job and if you can afford to buy some property and start paying property tax, you may change your mind on how the city council likes to waste money.

  • Guest2020 says:

    All this money people think is going to be pouring in is just a pipe dream. You’re counting on attendance numbers that are not going to happen. Wilmington has proven its disinterest in baseball before and this is just a gamble that Wilmington taxpayers cannot afford to make.

    If you’re counting on hotel sales to increase, you are deluding yourself. Anyone who would be interested in seeing a minor league baseball game are going to be fairly local. They will be withing driving distance and will be going home when the game is over. You might see some interest from tourists, but it will be as another thing to do while they are here. I just don’t see anyone planning a vacation around watching a minor league team. The increase in hotel revenue from the opposing teams will not be enough to put a dent in things.

    And as for those who might come as a day trip to see the game, you are counting on other people who won’t come. You cannot count on the people from the southern parts of Brunswick and Columbus Counties to choose the Wilmington team over the Myrtle Beach team. The drive is probably a longer distance to see the Pelicans, but Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach have an excellent road system that makes the drive easier. And they don’t have to deal with the gridlock like we get a lot of times between the river and Leland. And their roads won’t mess up their alignment in their cars like the roads in Wilmington. Myrtle Beach’s stadium is in an area that is surrounded by tourist attractions and the choices for dining near the stadium is a lot better than what is downtown in Wilmington. Not to mention that those who watch the Pelicans are a lot less likely to be mugged on the way to their cars after the game. And to be honest, there are a lot of people in these counties that just hate Wilmington and will not go there unless absolutely necessary.

    I do have one question for you. When Bill Saffo was campaigning for his last re-election he himself said that Wilmington cannot afford a taxpayer funded stadium. Is there some stack of money that magically appeared between then and now that enables Wilmington to be able to afford it now?

  • 1981duke says:

    Heard them all before,do not you guys have nothing new?
    Alot of canned responses.
    But nothing new.

  • OhTheThingsIKnow says:

    All five of them are busy commenting on a story from yesterday on StarNews.

  • 1981duke says:

    You just not reading closely,the “pro” side comments daily,

  • GuestX says:

    Oh that was funny,true but still funny.

  • 1981duke says:

    READY
    WILLING
    ABLE
    EDUCATED
    ENERGETIC

    About all the positive impact the Stadium and Single-A Baseball Team will bring to our area,county,city beginning April 2014,construction to begin January 2013.

  • Guest2020 says:

    If Mr. Hundley and his coalition want the stadium so bad, then they should pay for it, not the taxpayers of Wilmington.

  • iceman says:

    I agree with Guest 2020 ,if this ball park deal is so great why does’nt the franchise owner put his money where his mouth is?,lately the knuckle draggers are the ones grunting and chest pounding their approval for this deal that can be described as corporate welfare.If I had $5.1 billion in assets why would I abandon 1 town for another town that cant keep its sewage together,or handle its traffic problems? It smells worse than the sewage leaking on Wilmingtons streets like a scam being pulled by the Mayor and Wilmington City Council,do they have financial investments tied into this deal? If You would not marry a spouse who cheated in a prior committment,why would you trust a ballpark franchise to stay committed in a deal with your money who bailed on a previous deal?

  • 1981duke says:

    And how can writer say this without knowing,key component,”tax liability” per family.

  • Guest1313 says:

    Blah Blah Blah. “Let them pay for it.” “If It’s such a good deal then let it be privately funded.” What you folks don’t get is that the profits coming from having this stadium are going to be complex. It’s not all coming from just the stadium, it’s coming from the increase in sales taxes from more money being spent, the rise in property values, and the possible rise in hotel tax (even from just the out of town teams that have to stay overnight). Do I think $42 million is too much? Absolutely. Is there a number I think would be right, you bet. The $42 million was the max that was said that it would cost. Let’s see if the city council has the bargaining skills to make this work. Too many people have been narrow minded at the sticker shock. It’s like buying a car or a house, you have to negotiate and see if you can get the deal that would best work for you.

  • Frank says:

    Most of the people in favor of a stadium here in Wilmington, don’t really care about the fact that the taxpayers are funding this project. The only thing that they care about is having the Braves here. I have heard one gentlemen say that he wants a team here no matter what. No matter what, comes out to forty two million dollars and when added with the debt service, comes out to one hundred million dollars. We have a bad economy that seems to be getting worse, tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of the year,twenty new taxes in the new healthcare bill and locally we are taxing runners who are raising funds for charities, raising the nightly surcharge on taxi cab customers and now a tax increase for a want and not a needed stadium. They say it will bring business to the city and I say it will take it away. It’s called a substitute factor. If you bring your family of four to a game and spend eighty to one hundred dollars on tickets,food, drinks and a souvenir, you are pretty much done and are going home. That’s eighty to one hundred dollars that you are not going to spend downtown or any other part of town. Just not a really good deal for this town.

  • 1981duke says:

    Dead wrong,not sure where you went to business school,if you did.

  • Guest757 says:

    I agree with everything you have said… Not the time….

  • Anne Russell says:

    It is irrelevant who does and does not want pro-baseball in Wilmington. What is relevant is that Wilmington property owners should not be taxed to forcibly pay for this private enterprise. A travesty.

  • Guest2020 says:

    That’s if they can even afford to buy anything in addition to the tickets. And most people interested in seeing a game will be going home after the game. And they are counting on demographics that really shouldn’t factor into the equation because if you give people in the southern parts of Brunswick and Columbus Counties, they will choose to go to Myrtle Beach to see the Pelicans. The trip itself is better. The stadium is in a safe part of town and there are a lot of attractions near the stadium. Not to mention a lot more choices in where you can go near the stadium for supper.

  • D Rose says:

    All of the ballpark supporters have been around and continue to be around. No one has heard from them lately because the group that opposes the stadium has made such a fuss about their petition and trying to rally support against the stadium. The PRO stadium group knew that the petition was bogus and would never go through so they all sat back and let the opposition sink themselves instead of getting into a war of words. Trust me, the PRO stadium support is in full strength and they are waiting for their chance to be heard.

  • guesty says:

    None of us have anything against the building of a baseball stadium. We are against tax money being used to build a baseball stadium. If private investors were to step forward to fund the whole project we would not care.

  • 1981duke says:

    In our archives,rosters,records wanting this badly.

  • bob says:

    i wouldn`t get too excited…it ain`t gonna fly

  • 1981duke says:

    Tix on sale soon,join the movement for a “better Wilmington”,it is the right time,right place,right demographics,the right thing to do.

  • Guest Reply says:

    Sitting in the seats of City Council!!

  • 1981duke says:

    Yes-you can find the proside here,quite abit,we are not afraid to show,unlike the ant-side.wonder why?

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