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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Upset with many inaccuracies in another media report, New Hanover County Commissioner Jason Thompson joined us today for an exclusive interview on WWAY NewsChannel 3 at 5:30 p.m. to talk about his perspectives on baseball in Wilmington.

Yesterday WWAY was the first to uncover and report that Ripken Design, an arm of Ripken Baseball, had expressed to Thompson and New Hanover County staffers that it would be interested in building a baseball stadium here. Thompson says Ripken and other members of its group with the plan would build the ballpark with private money. The City of Wilmington is pursuing a bond of up to $37 million to build a tax-payer funded stadium for an Atlanta Braves minor league affiliate to be run by Mandalay Baseball Properties.

“It’s a private investor, private land, but it’s New Hanover County, and not in one of the municipalities,” Thomspon said in our exclusive interview.

Thompson said the plan is to build a ballpark on a piece of land along the Cape Fear River across from downtown Wilmington, which would also include a large retail facility, including a single tenant that would occupy about 100,000 square feet. Thompson said the plan already fits into future development already under consideration.

“We’re already talking about what we can do to run a line under there and develop the northern corridor of (US) 421,” Thompson, who is also a member of the CFPUA Board of Directors, said. “This would just be a big, private tenant that we’d have on day one to hook into our system, so we see that as a positive.”

Thompson laughed at a Ripken Baseball spokesman’s changing statements Tuesday that first claimed the company had not talked to the county, then evolved to admit it did but claim that it never approached the county about it. Thompson said he was most definitely approached by the group with the plan, not the other way around.

“I didn’t call them and say, ‘Let’s have a meeting.’ They called me,” Thompson said.

Thompson said the Ripken group’s plan would not interfere with Mandalay’s exclusive right granted by Minor League Baseball to explore putting a team in the Wilmington market. He said the Ripken venture would be focused only on developing the stadium/retail complex, and that the group has no problem with Mandalay running a Braves affiliate in the ballpark.

Thompson also offered some advice for Wilmington City Council as it continues to pursue a deal with Mandalay and the Braves. He said council members need to consider this alternative option

“Competition is good, and that’s where government sometimes loses sight of the bureaucracy doesn’t allow for the competition,” Thompson said. “And having two people kind of bid for our community is only good for our community.”

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12 Comments on "ONLY ON 3: Thompson sets record straight on ballpark talks, says ‘good for our community’"

2015 years 8 months ago

“We’re already talking about what we can do to run a line under there and develop the northern corridor of (US) 421,” Thompson,

Thompson, are you planning on gumming up 421 with traffic before it’s even completed, like Leland did to 17? That’s really assuring, why are you even in on this at this stage if a private party wants to buy land develop it if no taxpayer money is going to be spent, sounds more like zoning and planning, unless yaw have other motives.

2015 years 8 months ago

This is the reason why the State Legislature should amend Chapter 160A (and likely other) state statutes governing municipalities. Financial obligations of this magnitude should most certainly always be a ballot referendum question for voters. It took citizens protesting and pushing for their own referendum before the Council did an end run to derail that effort and put a bond referendum on the ballot. But evidently unknown to the populous until now there have been talks off the public radar with certain county officials about a private firm funding construction of a baseball stadium and mall. Quite different from the Wilmington City Council wishing to hand over tens upon tens of millions of dollars to give a fat-cat company a free ride by paying to build a stadium for them and getting nothing in return. The State Legislature should be called upon to amend state law to make such negotiations extra-transparent especially when talking numbers over $30 million dollars and under the general free-ride terms the City Council (in all their absence of grey matter) are currently considering.

Wade Griffis
2015 years 8 months ago

Every town deserves a “Clown Prince” and Jason is ours. What a great relief from council meetings that would put an insomniac to sleep.

2015 years 8 months ago

I got very little from this clip,except maybe their some private interests?
Just seemed shallow.I was expecting more details or players involved.

2015 years 8 months ago

Of Course Jason Thompson wanted to set the record straight. No one loves some Jason Thompson more than Jason Thompson. What an ass..
Now I would have love to have seen the tag team act of Laurel (Berger) and Hardy (Thompson). What a combination you folks in New Hanover have.

2015 years 8 months ago

in his interview gave up a lot of information about his conversations with Ripkin Design. Enough in fact that if his substance is true. The City of Wilmington need to think twice before signing anything binding with Mandalay. I think if the city proceeds on their current track, this proposal by Ripkin will be just smoke!! Isn’t Sept 4 the date?

2015 years 8 months ago

What are you proposing?
What is your solution-s?
This is a very difficult economic climate!

Guest beau
2015 years 8 months ago

We have sorry goverment in wilmington. This town can not handle the traffic that is here now. Its funny how the mayor and the people that want the bb in ilm are finding ways to go around what the people of ilm really want. I bet most of them stand to make money some where off of this.. Let the people vote, be fair and quit trying to pack your pockets and do the right thing. Hell you want something to do fix market st. I think we need a different set of people in office that listen to the people and not their wallets. Get ride of the mayor and then follow the line down. Let the people take wilmington back and run it right.

2015 years 8 months ago

Will find out more City and County struggles later today?

2015 years 8 months ago

I don’t think we find out anything “new”.
City and county governments disagree.
So what?
The city threw a wet towel on “comparison shopping” when it granted Mandalay’s proposal the title of “exclusive”.

We will hear no more on any other potential offers unless the referendum is voted down.
Then the whole process will start over again.
THIS deal, by this GROUP is not the BEST deal in my opinion.
The only way to get the BEST deal for Wilmington is to let the free markets work – and that means no “exclusivity” for anyone.
Then we can do side by side comparisons by
Funding sources
Potential impacts
and any other metrics you want to use

But, in order to do this you have to reset the game clock.
We have time
We have the interest


2015 years 8 months ago

true this city can’t handle the traffic. Reason being is more apartments they allow to build in the city or county it ties up traffic. Therefore apartments are not completely vacant. I can see however building the ballfield. They can’t if they decide to do it with more housing of apartments. Someone I know told me people don’t want to pay the price of upwards of $1500. I agree, I wouldn’t want to either. They can however low the price get the money back in long term. Sorry just the way it will have to be. As the ballfield again let Ripken build it if he has the finanicial arrangements with someone or a group of people. Therefore letting us go to the game. And get signatures from the players. My dad took me and my brother to a Pirates Spring training in Florida where I lived. What a game just wished I could had a ball to have signed then.

2015 years 8 months ago

Saffo is saying deal to be delayed again.
The longer this goes on the harder it will be to get support for it.
Now that we know for certain there’s another, possibly better deal out there, support for this one is falling apart.
The WWAY poll is still running 76% to 80% against it with more responses than Civitas.
The Chambers PPP poll is so bad they don’t want to make it public – otherwise they would have.

This deal is falling apart imho



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