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

READ MORE: FIRST ON 3: New Hanover County talking to Ripken about building private stadium, no official negotiations

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."

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.


Get a grip on it Dukie

the city fiasco can not come to fruition unless the voters approve the bond referendum and the city can come to terms with Mandalanta.

Could be the folks @ Ripkin have been following the media reports and see an opportunity?

Pray tell, where is it written a neighboring County can not negotiate with Ripkin to determine if the deal is doable with a reasonable chance for profit?

Perhaps, the owner of that over priced piece of river front real estate will continue to be the owner despite your best efforts.

But as I have said virtually from day 1, you & MikeT are your own worst enemies with your bmbastic posts whih change with the ebb and flow of the tide.

Surf City Man

The market has always been here,everyone in MLB and MINOR leagues know it.
The key who is going to pay for it?
The Roosters,Waves,Braves have all wanted some type of public input and funding.
I find it hard to believe that RIPKEN will do all this privately.

Dukie, you must be #1 in the #2 bidness!

...but if not, you're definitely full of #2! If there was ANY sort of Baseball market here, it would've been prevalent years ago with the first two failed ventures. If there was ANY sort of market for baseball here, the failed river-landgrubbers wouldn't be pushing for taxpayer funding so hard to get rid of their contaminated riverside dirt.
Baseball is business, not politics, not government. If the business can't support itself on it's revenues without taxpayer support, it appears as government...loathsome, dependant, unprofitable and always in the RED. The people don't want it, the people don't want it and most importantly...the people just don't want it. I don't even think the people will want it if it were to be privately funded. Just too many other fun things to do here besides go to a boring Single A slap-ball game.

So 3 companies are wrong

Manadlay,NSS,Ripken,are three premier operators who think baseball will do very well here,you keep holding on to Roosters and Waves woes,why?
Do you own part of Sharks,Hammerheads.
Our market is ripe and attractive,3 people say so,3 professionals so we shoud believe you over"those in the business".


They said baseball COULD do well here thats in the NSS report. No one is guaranteeing anything.
The difference is that Ripken is more positive on the area than Mandalay is and he believes he can get the private financing, whereas Mandalay had the private financing and it went away.

Thats why we should bring his proposals back up to the forefront, but we can't until such time as we vote down the referendum.
If Ripken comes in with a privately financed stadium I suspect Mandalay would do the same.
The ONLY way to find this out is to let it play out...


So 3 companies are wrong

Manadlay,NSS,Ripken,are three premier operators who think baseball will do very well here,you keep holding on to Roosters and Waves woes,why?
Do you own part of Sharks,Hammerheads.
Our market is ripe and attractive,3 people say so,3 professionals so we shoud believe you over"those in the business".

LOL haven't been to a Waves game lately...

Ebb and Flow

We just want baseball,via city,county,city and county combined.
but i have a hard time believing Ripken will build this all with private funds.


Notice your first sentence?
"We just want baseball,via city,county,city and county combined."

You ONLY added "private" as an afterthought and immediately dismissed it saying you "had a hard time believing Ripken will build this....."

That's the exact problem here Duke.
If Private funds (outside of Mandalay/Atlanta) amount to $1M or all of it that takes the pressure off of us.
Mandalay went from:
"no cost to taxpayers"
"Some cost to taxpayers'
"No private investors at all"

The Mayor went from
"Oh that's great"
"Those numbers are way too high and Madalanta's got to put more skin in the game"
"that's a number I can't support"
"We capped it at $37M"

If this proposed deal forces them to seek out other private investors? Everyone wins.
As it should be.
Saffo et al, were way too easy on Mandalanta



It is remiss to talk about "another" offer until we see details of "that offer".
Hard to comment on something I have not seen the fine print.
How do you not know that City using this story to leverage Mandalay and Braves.
Until we see both it is re-miss to comment.

@ Dukie

we still have not seen all of the details concerning the Mandalanta proposal and the agreement they want the city to sign.

That's changed so significantly since first proposed, it bears little resemblance to the initial proposal.

What's good for the goose should apply to the Gander.

No the City was not easy

It is all a part of negotiations,we have not seen any other proposal yet.
It would be hard to believe any team will fund this 100% privately.
Partially yes..
100 percent privately hard to fathom?


The ONLY way to see and compare the deals is to reject the referendum then talk to Ripken - CORRECT?
Then and only then can we get to see anything

THATS what is so upsetting - the exclusivity of the Mandalay deal.
We can't comparison shop until we reject this deal.
Besides being taxpayer funded thats another reason to reject the deal.

At THAT point the Mandalay deal can get put back on the table with private funding, whole, or in part.
If Ripken CAN do it with private funding, whole or in part, so can Mandalay.
We can also entertain any other plan that may or may not be out there if the parties want to go forward.......


the new deal

Why anyone could think that the Mandalay deal was the BEST deal we could get was beyond me.
So what happens now?
The city has already decided to move forward with the referendum, and that deal can ONLY be decided by the voters at this point.
So is the official verdict to vote NO on Mandalay to allow Council time to investigate THIS deal? Or any others that come along?

IF Ripken gets private funding then Mandalanta is dead in the water (for now)

But if Wilmington is indeed a desirable place to put a team I would venture a guess to say that Mandalanta will (Miraculously) find private funding and then Ripken Mandalay can do what I thought they should be doing all along........fighting to see who can give us the best deal.

O'Grady and Saffo look like fools for being so impatient......


Which Tean?

The Frederick Keys are the ORIOLES high single-A team and a fixture in that area. The Aberdeen IronBirds and NYP league loa-A,and Delmarva Shorebirds,low-A in the South Atlantic League.
The Delmarva Shorebirds,low-a look like the likely candidate?

You must be joking

who currently owns the Lynchburg based team which they were going to move to Wilmington? Certainly not the ones who want the city taxpayers to cover the expense of building that river front albatross.

C'mon Duke

Ripken baseball has teams for the Orioles the Giants and the Rays
Who said it had to be a Baltimore affiliate?


The Wheel

just keeps on Turning?


If true,and no public investment...let Ripken build it.

Come on

This is such an obvious red herring it is absurd. Once again the anti-Wilmington anti-stadium folks sink to yet another new low: intentionally leaking bogus offers to build a stadium to confuse the voters.

We get it, you have no ethics, no integrity. There is nothing you will not do in your attacks on development of downtown. We get it. You don't have to keep showing us over and over again how corrupt you are. Just let people vote in November without planting bogus information to confuse the issue. Stop with all the deceit.

And to the editors of WWAY, shame on you. Show some journalistic integrity and cover this story instead of trying to determine the outcome as dictated to you by your AFP overlords.

So Bob

I assume you think its OK for the CoC to initiate not one but two polls asking questions that take into account your religious outlook on a place to gather as not being deceitful?
C'mon man that is not only deceitful its wrong.
I got called BOTH times and both times they got the same answers.
"NO" to taxpayer funded stadiums
If THEY want to build it at their expense? I may come.
But given today's economy and the under performing convention center? I'd rather let them explore any freebies they can get.

Get the BEST deal for Wilmington. Get the LOWEST cost deal for Wilmington. Let them fight over us - we are in the drivers at here. (Thanks to the County Commissioners)
What a failure by Saffo and crew......


The problem with you Bob, is that you're only interested in

the "developement of downtown" and by that you're referring exclusively to "downtown" businesses, not even its residential population. Wilmington's a much bigger place than just "downtown". Most of the populace of Wilmington live somewhere other than "downtown". Yet you, and your "downtown" insiders, make it blatently obvious that all you care about is "downtown".

If that's all you care about, why should anyone outside of "downtown" care about you or want to pick up the tab for something that will only benefit a select few like yourself?

Absurd x 2

If true how come no statement by Orioles,Ripken,County??

Duke, Duke, Duke

why would you expect a statement from the Orioles?

Why did you have no concern when Mandalanta was not forthcoming with statements and information early on?

You can not have it both ways.

When Braves,Mandalay,City....

Forged agreement,their was a press conference and statement by both parties.
With no word from County,Ripken or Orioles this looks suspicious?
Alot of conjecture,few facts.

A lot of conjecture and few facts

Gee Duke -- there appear to be more facts at this stage then there have been at any stage of the Mandalanta debacle.

And of course, there has been no agreement consumated yet by Mandalanta; if I read today's Star News, they are still hammering out fine points which deal primarily with future cost payments and how can the city be required to cover them.

I continue to note, every time you and MrT make a post of any type, you harm the position of the Mandalanta participants.

Keep up the good work.

The lowest of the low would be the Pink Shirt campaign.

First of all, if you've got proof the offer was bogus, show it. If you don't, then one has to wonder who's trying to confuse who.

Now as to integrity: No ethics, no integrity? Surely you must be referring to the Cancer Awareness shirts that had no mention of cancer awareness. Do you really want to say that wasn't one of Wilmington's all-time low moments in the stadium debate? To even attempt to justify that would make you appear to be morally ambiguous at best.

As to the corruption issue: Only one side of the stadium issue has anything to potentially gain personally by being corrupt. Reason would dictate that those against the stadium would have nothing more than their current status quo maintained as a result of a stadium not being built with taxpayer dollars. That's not really a gain, is it? Soo .... if anyone's potentially corrupt ... it must be someone else. There's only two sides to this debate, so the answer is more than obvious.

To quote yourself: "Stop with all the deceit."

Pink Shirts

So you have a problem with a 'pro' stadium and baseball team approach giving something back to the community via Cancer campaign.
Really,there is nothing deceitfull as those who believe deeply in this venture,using shirt proceeds towards donations.


Ripken had a deal coming together before Mandalay was given exclusive rights.
That deal then shut out all others until such times as the mandalay deal is voted down.
THATs the real problem here - any last minute deal is not to be discussed until Mandalay is voted down.
If this is a new deal (or even it its old) there's no problem saying "NO" in November - as our Mayor said we are getting interest.

No one should rule out a better deal.

But I must admit down town is not my first choice for a location and if Ripkens got different locations than Mandalay has talked about I'm all ears.
If this does include a mall, down town is the LAST place it should be. Not enough people there.....
We shall see.........


Never could see downtown as a first choice. Just too many problems. IF a mall was included: Not a snowball's chance on the planet Mercury that it would be downtown. Personally, I think the whole concept of Wilmington's downtown may have run its usefull course and, as in other cities of this size, is possibly passe.

Interesting to see what develops with the Ripken thing. At the very least, it's sure pointing out the flaws in the current arrangement.

As far as November is concerned, a big thumbs down is the only logical choice for the taxpayers at this juncture.