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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) – Wilmington voters, the ball’s in your court.

Voting ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on a bond referendum in November will determine whether professional baseball will find a home in the Port City.

Even though the City of Wilmington has reached an agreement with the Atlanta Braves and Mandalay Baseball Properties, voters must pass a bond referendum before financing a stadium can come to pass. During a news conference, supporters of the referendum kicked off their ‘Vote Yes’ campaign.

“We’ve got to be effective in communicating the message that this is really more than baseball,” said Terry Spencer, Vote Yes Campaign Manager. “This is about making Wilmington a better place to live, work and play. It’s about economic development, it’s a source of civic pride.”

Frank Wren, the general manager of the Atlanta Braves, called Wilmington a dynamic city that’s a perfect fit for the Braves’ franchise.

“It’s an opportunity for the Atlanta Braves, the City of Wilmington and Mandalay Baseball to come together at this time and build a ballpark this is one of those fleeting moments,” Wren said. “If it doesn’t happen now, it likely won’t happen.”

But as this campaign fires up, so does the opposition. The “Vote No Stadium Tax” group is swinging back with its own campagin. It considers the stadium a waste of taxpayer’s money.

“It’s a business. The government doesn’t have any business in business,” says Scott Harry, leader of the ‘Vote No Stadium Tax’ group.

Wednesday night, the “Vote No Stadium Tax” group held an organizational meeting to rally support and discuss ways to get their message across to voters.

“I think our battle is more to educate the public than anything,” Harry says. “Once they learn the facts, and fortunately we have the facts on our side. Once they learn the facts, they’re going to vote no.”

The group will be holding a news conference Thursday at 3 p.m. on the steps of the Wilmington Convention Center.

Comment on this Story

  • taxpayerim

    For those that the rent is going to increase because of the last property tax increase and another from the ballpark can say NO,because they have more to lose (loss) ,as some property owners will pass the tax increase on to them.
    NO to anything that does not help everyone in Wilmington and the “county”,we need a h-ll of a lot more things another ballpark or another park built in Wilmington or the county to have to pay to maintain after it is built.No ones looks at cost for keeping things maintained only that we want it.

  • Katherine

    Anyone who isn’t an idiot, anyone who isn’t profiting directly from this, anyone with any basic math skills, anyone who believes you shouldn’t waste money when you have no money to waste.

  • 1981duke

    To the stadium,Braves-Single-A,and Mandalay.
    Quality all over the place!

  • Guest 2020

    Just from looking around me seems like most everbody aint voting for that ballpark. People are saying that things only going to be helping a few insiders and everbody elses gonna be paying for what those people get. That just dont seem like a fair thing to do.

    Seems like your liking it a lot. I see your always coming up with something to say about it. Most times what your saying just dont seem to make alot a sense to me or I’m guessing to a lot a people.

    Ever time someone says something I’m seeing you pop up like one a them mushrooms after they have one a them big rainstorms an like I said most times it dont seem to be making too much sense.

    Maybe your just not knowing it but them mushrooms use all a the rotton stuff for their food an to build on. Just dont seem like thats a real good foundation for that house a arguments your trying to build.

  • Vog46

    To quality entertainment
    To a MLB Great – a Hall of Famer
    To great shopping experience
    And a great MiLB team
    And a Free stadium

    Cal – I won’t “Rip”ken the taxpayers off

    Keep trying Chuck

  • guesty

    Those of us that own property within city limits can say No to them. You keep riding on the freebie train ride.

  • Katherine

    No snake oil for me, thank you! I’m voting NO to your horrible waste of money, and so are all my neighbors. Let people who want a stadium pay from their own pockets to build a stadium.

  • 1981duke

    No snake oil here.

  • if you are a pender county resadent and still want to vote yea/na for the up coming ballpark in wilmington, can we still vote for this on our ballot?

  • SurfCityTom

    no you can not; even if you own real estate in the city you are barred from voting.

  • Guest111

    As I said before. . . NO!!

  • Erlkoenig

    Why do these people always blame communication as the issue? Terry S, the citizens get it. You want Wilmingtonians to pay more in taxes for a stadium. The economic development will be diverting revenue from other businesses to the ball games, thereby hurting those businesses.

  • Guesttofferson

    “It’s an opportunity for the Atlanta Braves, the City of Wilmington and Mandalay Baseball to come together at this time and build a ballpark this is one of those fleeting moments,” Wren said. “If it doesn’t happen now, it likely won’t happen.”

    So, does that mean if you don’t do this right now, you’ll never get this opportunity again? An opportunity to shove uneccessary debt right up the taxpayers backside?

    Wren, you arrogant and obstinant SOB! Take your silly, single A stik-ball players and put them on a farm team in the midwest where they may be appreciated. We don’t need you, your team or your low level sport to burden our taxpayers with YOUR “fleeting moments” as you term it (that’s the way WE see it too!).

  • Vog46

    Play nice.
    This guy Wren displayed his ignorance of our history.
    We had 2 count’em 2 DIFFERENT franchises here in the last 20 years.
    Now they didn’t play in some shiny new stadium with “suites” and “box seats” – no they played in that pedestrian field known as Brooks field.
    Just like the Winston Salem Dash started outplaying in or the team in Greenville.
    What we have going on right now is a bunch of grown men (questionable) saying “we won’t succeed unless we have a brand new stadium that YOU pay for”.
    Now I wasn’t born yesterday but I do know that some things you should earn – respect is one thing, admiration is another and once you get in the spirit of “earning” something you appreciate it much more. You cherish it and take care of it.
    These people are asking, sight unseen, for us to commit to $58M+ in spending just so they can “try” to make a go of it here.
    No – sorry, earn it. Make the ATTEMPT to play at Brooks or Hardee. SHOW ME a packed stadium and you know what? I just might agree that it’s needed.
    But don’t come here with lies and distortions – twisting words and avoiding questions and expect to have MY respect and MY admiration for your “cause”.
    I don’t disrespect Terry, Margaret and the other locals promoting this. THEY didn’t negotiate this “deal” either.
    C’mon guys, make the effort, play to a packed Brooks field for a year and come back and say “See? We know it will work”.

    You guys are like a kid asking for a Corvette for a first car claiming you’ll drive better because its new and Dad paid for it.
    All the data says kids are lousy drivers and corvettes aren’t what they’re made up top be.
    But you keep on whining and crying with O’Shady saying “But Charlotte’s got one, and I want one too”.
    Keep stomping those feet O’Grady – they’re NOT too big to fill


  • Vog46

    In all of this is our Mayor and city council who can now breathe a sigh of relief as they now don’t have to make decisions on their own.
    As I’ve pointed out Mandalay hasn’t even struggled with this. Their “$25M investment” has been shown to be a farce. Their immediate cash outlays are:
    Finish paying off the 2004 renovations to Calvin Falwell field in Lynchburg (Source Lynchburg news media).
    Buy and/or move a rookie league team to Lynchburg (Source Atlanta chop/talk)
    Buy the Hillcats (cost estimated at $8.5M according to NSS)
    Their “commitment” consists of loan/lease payments
    Office space rental payments for 25 full time employees
    Lease payments
    Land payments
    Possible cost over run payments
    If the referendum passes:
    The city has immediate needs to:
    Buy the land and mediate any pollutants
    Begin construction of the stadium
    Bring/improve city infrastructure to the development to include water, sewer and roads.

    The city has the immediate burden of money outlay.
    In addition they have interest on the bonds which run abut 4% for 20 years.
    Mandalay will lease the property with no built in increases due to COLA. This is like renting a beach condo for $1000/month and 20 years later till paying $1000/month when other condo rents have risen to $2700/month.

    Over 20 years this amounts to a MILLION dollars the city loses.
    I don’t understand why they dropped the rent plus COLA in the lease. This is an abomination and considering how many people are involved in real estate on our council? I’m sure the NC Realtors Association is laughing their butts off at how stupid this lease provision is.


  • ChefnSurf

    I’m sure mayor and council would like to breathe a sigh of relief but it’s probably a little late for that.

    Even if they now take their hands off the tiller, they’re still going to be responsible for either having run the ship aground or at the very least endangered it by having sailed too close to the shore during a time of storm. Add the Convention Center debacle to the mix and there’s only a small chance they’ll escape politically unharmed.

    If I were them, I would have every reason to be afraid, very afraid.


  • mrT

    It really isn’t my fault I’m so full of poop. I was born this way.

  • taxpayer

    Maybe no snake oil duke…but there’s been enough bullsh*t from your side to fertilize a hectacre corn field.

  • 1981duke

    Just the facts my man,just the facts of success.

  • Katherine

    Your side has yet to provide a single fact, only hot air and make believe.

  • Guest461

    The first 3 letters “s” “u” “c” work great…now allow me to finish with the final letter “K”. NOW, you’re onto something!!!

  • SurfCityTom

    the founding Fathers of this country were on to something. IF you didn’t own property with a certain value, you did not have the right to vote.

    Fast forward, to the days of the poll tax. Now some would say that was a racially driven tax. And perhaps in some areas it was. But the intent was to require those who wished to vote, and did not have real property on which they paid taxes, to have a means to pay a tax and be enfranchised.

    Now, it’s just another entitlement.

  • Guest7969

    has always BAFFLED me that property owners have NO VOTE when it comes to taxation on property they own in the city, but don’t live on. A renter cares VERY little about property taxes they aren’t paying…

  • Def voting Yes, want more to do here

    Look at the opposition. Bunch of old dudes sittin in a room complaining about govt and how bad life is..sheesh.

  • Wade Griffis

    I am an old dude and I do not sit in a room complaining about how bad life is.

    I actually have a life, and like it.

    Bet I got laid more recently than you did.

    Meanwhile, baseball is about as exciting as watching paint dry.

  • Guest461

    You sound like another riverside land-owning money grubber seeking to fulfill your personal interests, e.g., filling pockets with money. If you REALLY look at the opposition, first-off they are TAXPAYERS. In addition, they are being very realistic and realize there simply is no large allure to SEMI-pro baseball in this area. Then they realize that spending upwards of 30-40 million to provide a facility will only generate more kiddie soccer fields in the near future. That’s all the new stadium will be worth using. Finally, the opposition is smart enough to realize that if anything to do with this baseball proposal had ANYTHING to do with making ANY money, private investors would be all over it like white on rice! We all know how “opportunity” works and when money is to be had, those who have money go for it. When it is a losing proposition, they quickly walk away guarding their checkbooks with both hands! So, go ahead… call the opposition all of the dengerated names you can think of. They are much smarter than you and will shut you down and shut you out in November! Get your crying towels ready with plenty of spares in hand!
    Me? I’m going to the beach for a few hours, then I’m going sportfishing on Saturday and diving on Sunday. That’s what people do at the beach. Single A, semi-pro schtikk-ball is for the bored and decrepid that live inland with nothing to do.

  • Katherine

    Say, were you one of those pudgy young men I saw wearing the Port City Baseball t-shirts? If so, I think it would be wise for you to spend less time watching others participating in sports and more time doing some yourself. There are some wonderful gyms in Wilmington! You really should check them out.

  • mrT

    I wants to watchs baseball nomatter how much it costs taxpayers.


  • Guest 10101

    especially when you add body language analysis to the mix.

    From left to right:
    (1) Legs crossed indicating untruthfulness
    (2) Arms cross indicating untruthfulness
    (3) Deer caught in the headlights expression indicating: “Help! I’m a deer caught in the headlights, I shouldn’t even be here!
    (4) Leaning on podium for support indicating: “Thank goodness this podium is propping me up because what I’m actually saying doesn’t really even give me a leg to stand on.”

  • GuestNoPark

    Vog, I will say your post is one of the best I have seen. I just don’t understand how the tax payers spending 36M and only receiving 10m back in rent over 20 years is a good investment. I don’t think there is a single council member that would run their busy that way.

    I say let the investors invest in the property there and pay taxes on it. That will help the City more than a ball park. If this was a good investment you would have investor lined up wanting a piece of the pie.

  • Vog46

    Thanks for the compliment.
    But the people who oppose this have to keep this in mind.
    It is NOT $36M – not even close.
    It’s $58M over 20 years. The team pays a flat lease rate for those 20 years. Considering that O’Grady is a lawyer and that Saffo is a Realtor I’m surprised, no I’m flabbergasted that there is no indexing for inflation in this lease, none. This is an embarrassment to the city and to the local real estate industry in general, to have a prominent Realtor like Saffo negotiate a lease that is so egregiously favoring the tenant. I cringe when I think about it!
    Then here’s the land portion. If the city were to save $ on the land you would think the primary concern would be to lower the bond costs – but no, Wilmington donates the saved monies to the stadium construction which could “contain” a cost over run. This deal is moronic for the city and a gift from the Gods of stupidity(our negotiating team) for Mandalay.

    We need help
    Saffo needs an intervention
    Council needs to get their collective heads examined

    Of course if THEY did this they’d hire a psychological consulting firm that would charge millions to the city.


  • Vog46

    I’ve said it before “they” have got to run someone with substance against Bill Poofy Hair Saffo. He is wildly popular and his last opponent was a weakling.
    As for Council, well I would like to think they’d all get replaced but this is not the type of place for large changes so I’ll settle for Oshady, Sheridan, and Rivenbark getting defeated.
    As for Saffo just keep this statistic in mind, in the 2007 – 2008 budget the tax rate was 33 cents per $100
    In the 2013 budget it is $42 cents per hundred and will go up an additional 2.5 cents to 44.5 cents per hundred under HIS leadership, if his precious stadium referenum passes.
    That is a staggering 33% increase in the tax rate during HIS tenure.
    He’s also collecting other taxes as well to include $2 to $3M in room occupancy taxes which the city was not collecting prior to his term.

    ANY newspaper publisher or civic leader will see this for what it is- a tax and spend politician.
    and what do we have to show for this?
    On the plus side 3 new fire stations and a new police station, and a new city operations center (on River Road).
    A city that divested itself of water and sewer departments that STILL has an operating budget bigger now than when he took over!!!
    We also have convention center that is operating so poorly it’s draining its “savings account” and will begin costing the city’s operating budget very soon. Overall cost of this behemoth will probably exceed $100M when all is said and done (when the bonds are paid off)
    It is currently incapable of operating on its own revenue.

    Our streets are still in disrepair, and parks are unfinished.

    What is disturbing to me is the city’s rapacious appetite for revenues through annexation, stealing of room tax revenues and the desire to garner a bigger share of sales tax revenues.
    This is ON TOP of a 33% property tax hike during Saffo’s term(s).

    He is incapable of holding the line on spending, and therefore incapable of running a city.

    But they have to run someone decent against him.


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