FIRST ON 3: New Hanover Co. approached with stadium plan; Ripken confirms talks

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Submitted: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 3:59am
Updated: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 2:33pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A baseball stadium built without using taxpayer money. WWAY was first to uncover that’s an idea one group has brought to New Hanover County.

One city councilman calls it a rumor, while the county confirmed a group did approach it with this idea.

Cal Ripken’s name is once again linked to baseball in the Port City. A source involved in the discussion told us the Hall of Famer’s company Ripken Design is interested in building a stadium. It would be privately funded using public infrastructure, such as sewer.

County Manager Chris Coudriet confirmed all but the name.

“Baseball is a hot topic in our community. We did have an organization approach us as a county government and say, ‘Here’s an idea that could be considered,'” Coudriet said.

Right now, the city is in talks with Mandalay Baseball Properties to build a taxpayer-funded stadium for an Atlanta Braves minor league team. The cost of the stadium and land could reach $37 million if voters in Wilmington pass a bond referendum in November.

The city had considered Ripken Design to do a feasibility for a ballpark, but it chose another company when Mandalay objected to Ripken’s involvement.

If news of a private stadium is true, it would throw a major wrench in the city’s plans. But Councilman Kevin O’Grady does not seem too concerned about this latest twist.

“What’s the source of the funding? That’s unidentified,” O’Grady said. “What’s the location? What about the infrastructure needs? I mean, if it exists at all, it’s nothing more than an idea.”

But if someone is willing to build a stadium for free, why wouldn’t City Council pursue it? Mayor Bill Saffo says he would be delighted to talk with the Ripken group about its idea.

Residents opposed to using taxpayer dollars to build a stadium say it’s a no brainer.

“If there’s a glimmer of hope that someone would come in and do this for us, then they should pursue it,” said Scott Harry, the leader of a group of business owners opposed to the tax-payer stadium plan.

Late this afternoon a PR person for Ripken Baseball said in an e-mail: “Ripken Design has spoken with the county through a mutual acquaintance while we were doing a facility assessment at UNC Wilmington. These conversations with the county were only in regards to the process of building a county-owned stadium.”

After we asked for clarification, John Maroon wrote back, “We did not approach them with the idea of building a stadium. Ripken Design was informed that the county was exploring the idea of building a stadium If the City did not.

“After learning this, Ripken Design was put in touch with the County through a mutual party to discuss the process of planning designing and building a stadium and ways that Ripken Design could assist should the County move forward. Nothing has transpired since.”

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65 Comments on "FIRST ON 3: New Hanover Co. approached with stadium plan; Ripken confirms talks"

The chosen one
2015 years 8 months ago

Wow, so many negative posters against this idea. How about you think about the young people instead of all of you old a** retired ppl. I bet if it was for another golf course everyone of you would be all for it. If ripken says he would build a stadium without tax payer money he would. We’re talking about a honest baseball player not a full of s*** politician like mitt romney.

2015 years 8 months ago

“Wilmington is a growing area and a strong market, Saffo said. If the city’s referendum fails, others will be interested in the area, he said. “No matter what happens there’s going to be a baseball group that’s going to look at Wilmington, North Carolina for a minor league baseball team and a stadium.”

Exactly why we should reject Mandalay’s proposal.
Even the Mayor thinks others will be interested.
Get the BEST deal at the LOWEST cost


2015 years 8 months ago

City says the bond is capped at $37M, but it will cost much less.
Lets assume $32M

Now lets combine all offers:
Watch this:
-$6M for land donation by the Camerons

-$10M that Ripken says it can save if THEY built it.

-$16N pg 126 NSS report of private Mandalay funding $400,000 + Property taxes for 20 years EQUALS????
$0 tax payer dollars

The city (rightfully so) pays for water sewer improvements like they would for ANY private business to be located here.
Take the Camerons land donation, and let Ripken build the stadium for $10M less, and let Mandalay proceed with lease & tax payments.
Voila – “paid for” stadium

Who said it couldn’t be done?
Funny how those numbers are working out for us isn’t it?


2015 years 8 months ago

So the County is going to build if City bond issue does not pass?
By UNCW would be old Autumn Hall site,you talk about a logistics mess on Eastwood Road.
UNCW can not handle UNCW traffic much less a ball-park out there.
There are so many details we do not know,and still doubt this can be 100 percent privately financed.

2015 years 8 months ago

I second that. The city government isn’t in the business of entertainment.