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Two sides draw battle lines over stadium funding

READ MORE: Two sides draw battle lines over stadium funding
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- As the teams take the field it looks like a grudge match to the finish. Both are playing or campaigning for the attention of voters on the baseball funding issue.

Thursday the "Vote No Stadium Tax" group was up to bat.

"Even if I was in favor of putting tax money into it, it is just a bad deal," Jim Rafferty, the group's treasurer, said.

Wilmington City Council gave the "play ball" sign this week with an agreement with Mandalay Baseball Properties and the Atlanta Braves to build a stadium downtown. The agreement calls for taxpayers to cover the construction costs of $31 million through a 2.5-cent increase in property taxes. It's something the no tax group strongly opposes.

"Enough is enough. Come back to reality," urged former Wilmington Mayor Harper Peterson.

Then, there is the other side. The Wilmington Family Entertainment and Baseball Committee says it's about economic development and a source of civic pride. Of course they have some big league back-up.

"It's an opportunity for the Atlanta Braves and the City of Wilmington and Mandalay Baseball to come together at this time and build a ballpark," Braves General Manager Frank Wren told a partisan crowed Wednesday.

The Braves have an obvious interest in helping supporters of the bond referendum.

So who will win? It's too early to call, but you can be the judge it all comes down to the voting booth in November.

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.

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Pleasure Island NOT ALLOWED to vote on BASEBAL

It is unfair that the taxpayers of Pleasure Island (Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, & Ft Fisher) are NOT ALLOWED to vote on Baseball in Wilmington.
THe debt will hurt us as much or more than those in (THE CITY OF WILMINGTON), we got burned on the so called Convention Center, as it was pushed through without any input.
Picture a nice new (EMPTY Stadium) with Porta-potties, as our water and sewer won't work because they spent it on Saffo's FIELD OF DREAMS
Please do a story on how Pleasure Island and Castle Hayne, have no VOICE in this serious problem, before we get stuck with ANOTHER of our RICH LEADERS ideas.
Richard Anderson
Carolina Beach NC
PS I have lived in New Hanover County since 1965 and was an all-star
Baseball Player as a kid in WILMINGTON,before I moved to the Beach with NO VOICE.

You won't pay

The tax money will come from property owners only in the City of Wilmington, not the 3 surrounding beach towns. You are off the hook.

ball park

people dont even support the Wilmington Sharks what makes them think they will support a minor league when we had the Waves and Port City Roosters there was very little support there also

ball park tax

I would love to have a minor league team here because it would help this area and possibly give some people part time jobs but if we have to have a property tax increase then I will vote no people can not afford it and it is not fair to raise people's taxes they should be able to have the park and make enough money to pay for itself so again I will vote no unless they decide not to raise property taxes

Re: ball park tax

You will have the opportunity to vote on a property tax increase for the sole purpose of building a baseball stadium. Vote "NO"...if you don't want your property taxes to increase to build a baseball stadium.

Thanks

To those folks that posted links to the brownfield location and reports. I guess I'm old fashioned that way and like reading things on my own.
The photographs of that fire were stunning - I would have loved to have seen the rest of them.

This aspect of the stadium has my interest piqued as Laura wouldn't object unless something has her concerned. The fact remains however that it could be an easy fix or it could be VERY expensive depending upon just what is there and how much is there.
Given the city wants to turn this into city property I would think they'd test it, and make that information public before buying it - although Shoninger might have something to say about that. If the land was tested before Shoninger bought it those test results should be made public.
The point here is that this COULD be very costly to the city.
And THAT would NOT be good

Vog

Here we go

Its about that time again, for major league and minor league teams to pair off for the next at least 2 seasons. This year should be pretty quiet for changes especially at the upper levels.

AAA
Buffalo Bisons – Mets – Blue Jays
Las Vegas 51′s – Blue Jays – Mets

The Scranton-Wilkes/Barre Yankees will also be getting a new nickname.

AA
No Changes at this level

High A
Ft. Myers Miracle – Twins – expected to resign
Inland Emprie 66ers – Angels – expected to resign

Low A
Beloit Snappers – Twins
Burlington Bees – A’s
Cedar Rapids Kernels – Angels – Twins
Hagerstown Suns – Nationals – expected to resign
Kane County Cougars – Royals – Cubs
Lexington Legends – Astros – Royals
Peoria Chiefs – Cubs – Cardinals
Quad Cities River Bandits – Cardinals – Will Change
South Bend Silver Hawks – DBacks

Short Season
Aberdeen Ironbirds – Orioles – expected to resign
Batavia Muckdogs – Cardinals – Will Change
Jamestown Jammers – Marlins- Pirates
State College Spikes – Pirates – Cardinals
Yakima Bears – Dbacks (Moving to Hillsboro, OR no new name announced yet)

Rookie
There will be no changes at this level.

Chuck-
At least 4 if not more of the above mentioned teams will move.
Still think a lease cannot be broken?
And this is a LIGHT year

Vog

VOTE YES!

In November for multi-use stadium,Braves single-a.

re: VOTE YES!

I've heard the that this stadium could be used for weddings. What father hasn't dreamed of walking his daughter...down the first base line.

VOTE NO IN NOVEMBER!

Also an excellent place ...

... for watching the annual Perseid meteor shower as well as for nocturnal clarinet practice. :-)

Chef

Ah stargazing....what a great science that is.

Unfortunately one of the drawbacks of this stadium as indicated by the NSS study under the last section detailed site evaluation?
One of the big drawbacks to the Eastwood road corridor was its too close to residential homes and the "light pollution" the stadium gives off.
It is a very bright venue when lit (which is why they think down town is best - not many people live down there - which is also why it will fail there but hey........)

So astronomy is out.(you need to be away from city lights)
But then again, given it's single A ball, astronomy might be the only way to see a "star" at the stadium.

Vog

From what I have read,

From what I have read, Wilmington citizens overwhelmingly oppose this ballpark. They will have an opportunity to vote against it. If they do not do so, they will deserve whatever they end up with.

maybe you're reading the wrong things...

...because every person I know here supports the stadium. I think it will be a tremendous boost to the downtown, especially the north end that has been languishing for decades. I really don't understand why so many people who consider themselves 'pro business' are against it, because I think it will spur a number of small businesses to spring up around the park, creating jobs for a lot of folks who need them.

Small Business

Dantynan said, " I think it will spur a number of small businesses to spring up around the park, creating jobs for a lot of folks who need them."

Would you care to list all of these small businesses that can afford the property around the proposed stadium? More empty rhetoric based on fact-less dreams and distortions. If the first part of your statement is in fact the truth, then you do not know many property owners that live within the city. Can anybody on your side state a fact that can be proven? You will not even release the results of your own poll......that speaks volumes about how the tax payers of Wilmington feel about a tax payer funded stadium. You need to quit letting Terry "it's not about baseball" Spencer write things for you that make you look like an idiot.......

dantynan

Here's your problem:

In your short little post you said this:
"I think it will be a tremendous boost to the downtown"

and

"because I think it will spur a number of small businesses"

Here's what we KNOW-
We know it will cost Wilmington $58M at a minimum. Hurricane damage is separate and paid for by Wilmington

We know the "success rate" of MiLB stadiums is very small and usually occurs in markets that are much MUCH bigger than ours.

We know by looking BACK at stadium builds within the last 20 years that hey on average have the same economic impact as a large pet store.

Thats what we know
Saying "I think" not once but twice indicates what you really WISH to happen not what is most likely to happen. ALL estimates of economic impact were just that - estimates. Even NSS says they don't KNOW if it will succeed here.
But given a choice between possibly LOSING $58M worth of taxpayer dollars and losing nothing by letting Ripken develop a ball field with private investors we should all choose going with Ripken's plan

Vog

The Northside will languish

The Northside will languish for many more decades, ball park or no ball park. The taxpayers should not be responsible for financing this fiasco. If the business owners think this is so great, let them pool their resources and build it, as they are the only ones that will stand a chance of benefitting from it, except the handful that is pushing for it. You must not know many people.

Guestvader

I'm not so sure the northside will languish per se but there's limited room there thats for sure. A quick look at google maps shows that once you get to the bridge you basically stop with land you can develop that is "attached" to down town.
The question for me is - is a stadium the best use for riverfront property? Privately or publicly financed I have to say no. Riverfront down town property needs to be used daily IMHO not 70 nights per year. Now the proponents will say well it's multi use - correct but what are the other uses and what days will those uses be best attended?
Concerts? Weekend nights are best
Car Shows? Weekends
The list goes on.......
I can see a hotel there if needed or an office park whatever the demand would be. Want to attract people down town? How about riverfront condos? Get some people actually living down there. Get people down there and you might see a need for a grocery store.
PEOPLE generate economic impact - and residing there would generate sustained,daily economic impact not a part time impact like a stadium might have.

Vog

VOG

you're thinking outside of the box again. The Proponents may not understand.

Great thought on river front condos with marina. Some were built up toward Elijahs just as the real estate market was crashing. I don't believe they did very well.

Raleigh saw a number of downtown condo projects about the same time. They went to foreclosure for the most part; although there were some great deals just before the foreclosure action.

If the economy doesn't crash in early 2013, as many economic forecasters are predicting, this might be the time for a real estate resurgance downtown. Assuming residents will not turn into 3 legged creatures who glow in the dark, market priced river front condos could be an answer.

You're right; expensive river front property needs more than 70 to 80 days use per year.

Oh well, once the referendum goes down to a booming defeat, Ripkins Group can step in; present their proposal for approval; and all of the baseball fanatics can view opening day, across the river, in 2014.

Maybe the proponents can embrace this and start planning some type of water taxi service.

Tom

Thinking outside the box gets me in trouble at times.

Be careful on the marina thing though. I said riverfront condos for a reason. Down town is one of the lightest population density areas in the city. If you have a Marina that is accessible through an entrance you're OK. But put a public Riverwalk right by all those expensive boats combined with very few people around and you're asking for trouble. But if you put people in the area, on their decks, looking out their windows or who are just outside walking and you have an .effective deterrent to possible crime.
Extending Riverwalk past the CC right to the Holmes bridge (going by the proposed stadium) puts it right in the area of a proposed marina.
Riverfront condos provide permanent economic impact from people living right in the area. These people also provide eyes and ears to the area

BTW - any guesses on to how much it will cost to
A - build the 1.5 acre park attached to the stadium? and
B - extend River walk to and past the proposed stadium site? and
C - build up the land and install the bulkhead necessary to protect this land from the mighty Cape Fear River?

You know, one thought that has been over looked by everyone is this.
I was polled by PPP about the stadium project. One of the questions was "Would you be more likely to vote FOR the referendum if it included a public park"?
Now we find out the park wasn't part of the deal and that this deal isn't much different then previous ones submitted.
Someone, somehow forgot to inform the "pro side" the park should not be a selling point for the stadium because its not included in the plan........funny how that happened, eh?

Vog

Really not funny

those pro ballparkers, who are lusting for a city financed ballpark never read the opposing position in its entirety. Better to just make a few witless statements which have no relevance.

Anyone with half a brain should be questioning the toxic state of the grounds they propose to build on.

Early on I did; and of course the witless duo had comments to make concerning no need to worry.

Yet, that appears to be raising its head again as even Ms. Padgett has questioned it within the past week or so.

If they want to be really honest, that should be disclosed and soon.

Does T really think he can get back into the banking industry if he can get this property sold?

SCT

There is no doubt Shoningers land is "brownfield" land. Go to one of the links down below this message (the one for DENHR - look at maps) click on maps go to the Wilmington area and start zooming in on them. When you get to the point where yo can see the Isabelle Homes bridge switch google to satellite view and the "brownfield" land will be highlighted in yellow.
Shoningers land is highlighted.
What you don't see is how bad it is or the possible methods of remediation.
It could be as easy as a couple of inches of dirt over the top, or it could be you've got to take off the top 2 feet and replace all of that dirt.
We just don't know.
Now one other thing from NSS you need to think about

Detailed site evaluation. Dowtown sites "opportunites and constraints" These are obviously the constraints. Sorry no page numbers back there
Constraints:
• Most sites lay within the 100
year floodplain
• Most sites may present
challenges in dealing with
the existing water table
• Most sites have limited
opportunity for on-site
parking
• Many sites have a higher
probability of environmental
remediation being required
due to past uses.
• Site acquisition costs tend to
be higher in this area

The top two have nothing to do with pollution but could, COULD be major costs for the city or the construction company (I don't know what category this would fall under, the city is only responsible for buying and mediating the pollution).
Now assume Riverwalk has to be extended (a pretty safe bet) How much would bulkheads cost?
I don't think the pollution is the problem I think its the flood plain and water table.
Neither Shoningers property nor Dean Hardwoods is my first choice for where to put this.......
Vog

VOG

something set Ms. Padgett's radar scanner off.

It should be fairly simple for someone, in the know, to say "it will cost X number of dollars to remediate the site".

That seems to be a no brainer. Which may explain why the Pro Ball Park faction does not have the information available.

Across the river; private funding is the obvious solution.

Baseball agreement

It is my sincere hope that everyone will read the agreement. This is one of the biggest attempted con games in the history of the United States. That the Mayor and Councilman O’Grady/O’Shady are proud of this agreement is one of life’s huge mysteries. What else was decided in this secret/backroom deal that the public does not know about?
Some of the points people should Question:
1) The city gives Mandalay 2.9 million dollars to buy furniture for the stadium. The stadium will have 25 full time employees, so each employee needs $112,400.00 worth of furniture? Those offices and luxury suite/boxes must be miniature palaces.
2) The city finances 37 million dollars to build the stadium. If you add 4% interest compounded for 20 years and loan insurance, this equals 58 million dollars. Now consider the operating costs and upkeep and insurance on the stadium, the 58 million does not cover anywhere near the total cost of the stadium for 20 years. The city is also responsible for any damages that happen to the stadium. Think hurricane and a stadium located in a flood plain.
3) Mandalay pays $500,000.00 a year in rent for 20 years. There are no provisions for cost of living increases. This equals 10 million total in rent. 58 million minus 10 million leaves the tax payers responsible for 48 million for just the basic construction costs. They also keep all revenues generated from baseball.
4) The city is “allowed” to have 10 functions a year in the stadium and will have to pay Mandalay to “manage” these functions. You have got to be kidding me. The Mayor and Council need to be drug tested weekly from this day forward at their own expense.
5) Mandalay has the gall to tell the tax payers to accept this deal or there will never be another opportunity to have a minor league team. Do it now or else! Well…..why don’t you take your or else and “shove it.” There are and will continue to be other deals that do not cost the tax payers 58 million dollars.
6) The best test for any deal is to reverse it. I can guarantee you Mandalay would not accept this deal if they were the ones spending 58 million to receive 10 million back in rent. The Mayor and Council would not sign the deal either if they were responsible instead of the tax payers……..Once again I will ask, “If this is so great, why doesn’t Mandalay just pay for it and end the controversy?”
7) My biggest concern is this: Mandalay can sell this team and leave. If the attendance does not make this profitable, they can leave Wilmington high and dry without a team. The stadium/palace then becomes an expensive place to grow “weeds.”
8) All the arguments the people in favor of this project claim, we have now. The Wilmington Sharks play great baseball and do not require 58 million dollars to be spent to provide this entertainment. UNC-W also plays great baseball. Wilmington has quality baseball top offer its population.
9) There is a very strong possibility the property where the city wants to build this stadium is highly polluted. It would make sense to require the land owner to provide testing to show how much pollution is present and what the cleanup will cost. Otherwise, the cost over runs starts early and could cost millions of extra dollars. This entire deal would be comical if there were not millions of real tax payer dollars at stake.

Is the proposed Stadium property a Brownfields Site?

Rick,
9) There is a very strong possibility the property where the city wants to build this stadium is highly polluted. It would make sense to require the land owner to provide testing to show how much pollution is present and what the cleanup will cost.

I don't know which specific properties on the river are being proposed for the stadium, I did check the NCDENR project list for Brownfields projectshttp://portal.ncdenr.org/web/wm/bf-finalized-projects , on which you will see

One Old Project:
09040-05-65 Wilmington Convention Center 515 NUTT ST WILMINGTON New Hanover

One NEW Project:
10040-06-65 Almont Shipping - New Between Cowan and Hanover Streets WILMINGTON New Hanover

Cowan Street was mentioned here:
"The city recently started looking into buying the roughly 8-acre Sawmill Point Marina property, which is at the corner of Cowan Street and the Isabel Holmes Bridge. An attorney with the Raleigh firm Parker Poe sent Deputy City Manager Tony Caudle a draft agreement indicating the city would pay $4.5 million for the Sawmill Point property." http://watchdogs.blogs.starnewsonline.com/21085/city-exploring-second-po...

I would expect Wilmington to do a thorough inspection (including testing for contamination on the property) as part of its due diligence, however this was not done when NHCS purchased the property in Castle Hayne for the new Elementary and Middle School. The property they bought was originally part of the Reasor SuperFund Site and the soil and water tests for contaminants of concern were not done prior to purchase. Further, the new well for the school was disabled after the schools were build, water testing of the well could not be conducted and the schools hooked up county water.

Carol

Try this:
http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/wm/bf/map

Zoom in on the Wilmington sites
I think Shoningers land is highlighted but I don't think the Dean Hardwoods site is

Vog

The Almont site is listed as a Brownfields property....

and this is the one Saffo and O'Grady have their heart set on. As far as consideration for the other site, I don't believe $6 million was just abitrarily chosen: “Somewhere in that $6 million range for 8.5 acres is really bottom line for me on what I could afford to do,” Chuck Schoninger, May 2012. Now, Schoninger is one of the financial backers behind the upcoming media campaign to pass the referendum. Why would he contribute money to an ad campaign if it resulted in the city buying another piece of property?

Saffo has stated that he envisions the riverwalk connecting our (idle) convention center to this next white elephant. I think the fix is in.

By the way, what's going to be the budget for that riverwalk extension and who do you think is going to get the bill? That 2.5 cents just keeps growing.

Rick

I have to correct you on something. You said:
"4) The city is “allowed” to have 10 functions a year in the stadium and will have to pay Mandalay to “manage” these functions. You have got to be kidding me. The Mayor and Council need to be drug tested weekly from this day forward at their own expense."

That is not entirely true. Yes they CAN but who makes the FINAL decision? This is interesting:
From the agreement section 12
12. Scheduling Priority; City Events. It is the intent of the Parties for the North Carolina Azalea Festival (“Festival”) to have priority over all other events at the Ballpark, including, subject only to the schedule making authority of the Carolina League, the Team’s home baseball games. The Parties acknowledge and agree that the schedule making authority of the Carolina League supersedes the above-stated intent of the Parties with respect to the priority
of the Festival. Operator shall use its reasonable efforts to cause the Carolina League to adopt schedules that do not create conflicts between the Team’s home baseball games and the Festival.
*********************************************
Read this part again:
The Parties acknowledge and agree that the schedule making authority of the Carolina League supersedes the above-stated intent of the Parties with respect to the priority of the Festival.

So if the Carolina League (CL)decides that the Pelicans come to town for 3 days during Azalea Festival THEY take precedence over festival activities.

Remember Rick the scheduling is ALWAYS at the discretion of the CL. ALWAYS !!!! No exceptions.
Now, will they interfere with Azalea Festival? I doubt it - they don't want to make anyone here mad about OUR festival. But it's interesting that while spending $58M we have to "beg" the BBC for use of the stadium during festival, or any other of the 10 city sponsored events.

There are no guarantees the city will get to use the stadium - NONE.
By the way I've come up with an interesting name for the stadium to "honor" our main negotiator on this deal. I will bid $1 dollar for naming rights to call it
O'Shady's Shanty

Vog

Name that Stadium Contest

I think that we should call it "Field of Schemes."

DREAMS

Not schemes,dreams of a lifetime!

Keep dreaming... you've

Keep dreaming... you've never answered the simple question that is if this is such a great deal, where are the eager private investors??