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City council votes to pass ballpark agreement with Braves, Mandalay


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Wilmington City Council voted 6-1 Tuesday night to approve the agreement with the Atlanta Braves and Mandalay Baseball to build a baseball stadium in Wilmington. However, the approval did not get passed without a few reservations.

Laura Padgett was the only council member to vote against the agreement. She said that if in November taxpayers approve the deal, she will do everything she can to make sure the ballpark gets built.

In an explanation, Padgett listed her reasons why, which included concerns about mitigation costs on the land purchase and a lack of support for teams who are already here.

"I continue to have a concern that we have two functioning baseball teams, and they are not drawing huge crowds," she said.

Councilman Kevin O'Grady, though a huge proponent and key negotiator for the city, agrees that there are risks.

"We have a real opportunity here," O'Grady said. "It's not without risk, but it has a lot of reward. I mean, we know the risks. There are deal issues. What if the land can't be acquired? What if the debt isn't approved? What if the team isn't available?"

The city's agreement calls for taxpayers to cover the construction costs of $31 million through a 2.5-cent increase in property taxes. The agreement also calls for $6 million to acquire the land where the ballpark will be built, which would be paid back to the city through rent payments from Mandalay and the Braves.

However, in the end, nothing is certain without a final vote in November.

"And now it's up to you," O'Grady said to Wilmington residents. "Tell us whether you want to do it."

Also at Tuesday night’s council meeting, members voted 6-1 in favor of annexing and rezoning a nearly 10-acre plot of land in the 6000 block of Gordon Road to build an 84-unit town home complex.

A public hearing was held before the vote, and the main concern for residents was traffic.

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.


Mr T

And I hope you don't believe that since mandalay was the first that it's the ONLY game in town
Oh and here's the story:

If you want to ignore the potential thats sheer recklessness on your part.
So lets explore the possibility


"Cal Ripken"

I don't believe anyone on here said Cal rang their doorbell and asked if he could come in and talk to them personally about baseball. However, Jason Thompson said he sat down with some representatives from one of Cal Ripken's baseball groups and they laid out a proposal to him, with plenty of details, for bringing a stadium to the county with a 100,000+ sq ft anchor tenant, funded with private funds.

If you're going to call Jason a liar, I would thoroughly enjoy you doing so to his face.


you hit it on the head.

Cal Ripken is not involved in the daily activities of Ripken Baseball, Inc.

Members of his organization have put together a proposal.

What amazes me is how all of these baseball proponents, who swear they are only looking for baseball, ignore the statement made by the Ripken Group that Mandalanta could use the facility for their baseball team.

If you check Ripken Baseball's website, I believe they actually own and operate 3 minor league teams as well as some youth teams and sponsor the Youth league world series; I believe it's referred to as the Babe Ruth League but I could be wrong on that.

But look at the number of facilities they design and build. Far greater than 3.

These local baseball novices would have you do it the sheister way, laden with snake oil, and overseen by Sheister, Ripoff & Fleeceum.

Intelligent folks realize the Ripken Group will build it the Ripken Way which is the right way.

A question

Rick addressed part of this:
"Councilman Kevin O'Grady said a stadium would help develop the northern riverfront and relieve the tax burden on Wilmington homeowners. Furthermore, he said Wilmington should compete with cities elsewhere in the state that have stadiums."

"Furthermore, he said Wilmington should compete with cities elsewhere in the state that have stadiums."

Why? If this is how city leaders are supposed to think why doesn't Charlotte pump ocean waters and sand to their fair city and build beaches to compete against Wilmington?
A stadium will not ad to our city as a "destination place". A few a very SMALL few do the "baseball circuit" travel from city to city watching baseball - but this is primarily for major league teams although I would suspect a couple do it for the minors.
So - why? Why compete?
This is not something we have to do and not under this circumstance. I would rather compete with a privately funded stadium thank you very much.
Competing with other cities that have convention centers had got us what? $100M in debt for a money losing center. Charlotte cannot compete with us in many areas - and they don't even try because we can't compete with them in many areas as well.
Bring on the ripken group!!!!!!!
Say "NO" in november


“Councilman Kevin O'Grady said a stadium would help develop the northern riverfront and relieve the tax burden on Wilmington homeowners.” Other than cleaning up the pollution, which the current owner should be required to do, why does the riverfront need help or developing with tax money?
How do you relieve the tax burden on home owners by raising taxes to fund a project that does not come close to showing a return on the investment? O’Shady will be bumping into things 2 blocks away with his nose after telling this whopper. The fact he could do it with a straight face shows how easily he can dismiss the truth.
This project (please read the entire agreement), benefits Mandalay, the Braves, and their billionaire beggar owner. They reap the profits while the tax payers get the bill. I do wish everything that has been discussed/promised in all the private meetings could be made public. If we knew all of the "deals" it might make more sense. As it stands now, it does not make any sense to fund this with tax money.
Please vote this down. New Hanover County can still have a stadium and minor league baseball. It will be built by the Ripken Group using private funds. The only way it should have been considered in the first place………..

Bag of Money, Box of Stupid

Mayor Saffo,
We have a deal for you. We want you to buy a $31,000 car plus a $6,000 lot adjacent your property on which to park it. You will have to install a driveway at your expense. If you want to use part of the driveway (let's call it a Park), you may, but you install benches, swings, etc. at your expense. We are going to rent out this car to Wilmington visitors and keep the rental fees. But, we will cut the grass around the driveway. You can drive the car 10 times a year, but upon use of the car you MUST have it washed, waxed and detailed at your own expense. You will also have to pay us a rental fee for using the car 10 times a year. In the event of damage to the car, for example a hurricane drops a tree on it, you will be responsible for all repairs necessary to bring the car back to pristine condition. You will be responsible for obtaining and paying for all liability and collusion insurance. We anticipate that you will have the admiration of your neighbors because you will have a nice car parked next to your house. We anticipate using this car for 20 years and are willing to pay you $500 per year. But, if things don't work out, we may just abandon the car in your drive way and you will be left to pay off the $31,000 debt that YOU took on. We will not be paying taxes on the car because technically, you own it. We anticipate that you will have to hire about 350 people (Think city JOBS!!!) to maintain and service the car. If you want to sit in the back seat occasionally (we call this seat A BOX), we are willing to make this accommodation for you and your city council. Finally, we are more than happy to issue a press release stating what a great negotiator you are!

Great piece!

A brief moment of clarity in an otherwise surreal Wilmington.



Ball Park in Wilmington

I hope the taxpayers wise up in November and vote their conscience. Obviously the city council does not care about the will of the residents there.

Deal made with the Devil????

We just can't believe that Mayor Saffo and the entire City Council is going forward with this endeavor before the vote on the matter in November. Apparently they know something we the taxpayers don't. Just what have they got up their sleeves? Why are they constantly shoving this baseball issue down the throats of the taxpayers "We The People"? We haven't approved anything thus far! Why don't you all just wait until the "People" have spoken before you make your plans? We just can't help think that this whole idea is a bad idea in that it will not make money for us as an investment but only cost us money. This makes "NO" sense at all.
It really stinks of them making a deal with the "DEVIL"!

Not a surprise

As expected the council did what we all expected them to do and pass this on to us.
In the same meeting they annexed more property which is another thing they did that most voters (and the General Assembly) are against.
But one thing Padgett said bothers me greatly:
"In an explanation, Padgett listed her reasons why, which included concerns about mitigation costs on the land purchase and a lack of support for teams who are already here."
They typically don't say these tings publicly unless they have VALID concerns. In this case I wonder if Shoninger has told them something? Or shared testing results of some kind?

But in the end it doesn't matter we will decide. In 2 scientific polls 80% opposed the stadium, and in WWAYs nonscientific poll its still 3 to 1 against it.
As O'Shady said its a risk.
Funny how they like to take risks with other peoples money


Well Vog, perhaps History repeats itself

Have you read Dante's Inferno written during the 14th Century? For the uninformed, Inferno is Italian for Hell. There were 9 circles within Dante's Inferno.

The Eighth Circle in Dante's Inferno awaits "...Corrupt politicians (barrators) are immersed in a lake of boiling pitch, which represents the sticky fingers and dark secrets of their corrupt deals..."

The Fourth Circle awaits "...Those whose attitude toward material goods deviated from the appropriate mean.....are so absorbed in their activity that Virgil tells Dante that it would be pointless to try to speak to them – indeed, they have lost their individuality, and been rendered "unrecognizable"..."

It would appear voices from the past discuss the destiny for the City Council Members, who are voting for this albatross and the Ball Park Proponents whose only interest is personal profit.

Hope they have thick skin.

If Voters Matter At ALL....

Then this lunatic move by our "Leaders" will be voted down in November. I have said all along that Saffo and his followers will try to pass this- in spite of the fact that a majority do not want it.

If voters do not show up- and vote this away- then, we deserve what we get!

City Council- corrupt and incompetent

There they go again. Saffo, Anderson and the other goons serve themselves and special interests. Star News supported these clowns and some otherv greats from the past--VOTE DOWN TAXPAYER FUNDEED BALLPARK> Let this Cabal pay for it themselves not at public expense.
Vote these clowns out- or the joke is on us!

Perhaps Tom

I have seen other cities do similar, stupid things and pay the price for years. We just don't learn.
Hey I don't fault them - this was snake oil selling at it's finest and they just fell for it.
THis was an easy decision when it cost next to nothing like the Waves and Roosters. But now there's $58M+ on the line and you need to show a little more than a dream to get me to bite on this because we failed twice already.
I know a shiny new stadium does not make a team better
I know it doesn't guarantee a crowd will show up either
I know a franchise sales negates the lease agreement
I know that at least $9M+ of Neumanns "$25M of investment" is for buying Lynchburg, paying for the remainder of the Falwell field renovations, and buying a rookie league franchise as a replacement team.
THis leaves the aforementioned $10M for the stadium and repayment of $6M of land costs.
Well La dee freaking da........
Shows how much Mandalay struggled to make this happen didn't it? NOT.
There has been substantially NO CHANGE to the agreement - which means is was poorly negotiated right from the start.
Shame on us if we pass this in November


You're right there Vog

if the city voters allow this to pass, they get what they pay for. Sooner or later, the City Council will force an overleaveraged project onto the taxpayers backs and the City will go into default.

You've got the Ripken Group ready to put a park, with associated retail, across the river with no public funding required.

And they even said, Mandalanta can operate the team and lease the ballpark from the Ripken Group.

If you've ever been to a Ripken ballpark, they do it right.

But who knows just how contaminated the city proposed site is. Forget the funding or a minute. Perhaps we'll see a whole generation of 3 legged, 4 armed ball fans coming about due to the site contamination.

But as long as they can unload the over priced piece of river front acreage onto the city's shoulders, it doesn't matter.

I think calling them snake oil salesmen is being overly generous to them and is an insult to the snake oil salesmen of the world.

Tom a question

"But who knows just how contaminated the city proposed site is. Forget the funding or a minute. Perhaps we'll see a whole generation of 3 legged, 4 armed ball fans coming about due to the site contamination."

This raises a question. Back in New England when a property was sold testing was done on that land to determine the amount of contamination (if any).
If agreed upon by buyer and seller the seller could lower the price to account for the expected level of remediation the new buyer would have to do to it.

The point here is there should be SOME sort of test results already - shouldn't there be? Did Shoninger buy that land from Almont and if so was there testing done at the time of purchase?

It bothered me greatly that Padgett voted against this deal using language that seems to imply the land is very contaminated. Doe she know something we don't?


If they broadcast a Braves game while I was having a hard time getting to sleep, it would be instant ZZZZZZ. Sleep, blessed sleep.