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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — After Wilmington City Council approved an agreement with Mandalay Baseball and the Atlanta Braves to build a baseball stadium in the Port City, groups both for and against the bond referendum are bringing the heat when it comes to campaigning to voters.

Thursday the "Vote No Stadium Tax" group stepped up to the plate. Former Wilmington mayor and downtown business owner Harper Peterson made it clear to city officials and residents Thursday afternoon that building a tax-funded ballpark is the wrong decision. He says with so many people struggling to scrape by, the council needs to be satisfied with what the city already has to offer.

“They’re asking how do we balance the essentials of living in this city and we’re asked to pay a luxury tax for a baseball stadium,” the former mayor says. “Enough is enough come back to reality.”

Jim Rafferty, the group’s treasurer says he has thoroughly studied the agreement council members approved this week.

“Even if I was in favor of putting tax money into it, it is just a bad deal.” Rafferty says.

The ballpark agreement calls for taxpayers to cover the construction costs of $31 million through a two and a half cent increase in property taxes. In the end, voters will make the ultimate decision in November when they decide whether or not to approve a $37 million bond referendum that would pay for the ballpark.

Peterson says a ballpark would only take away money from businesses and teams already here.

“When I first came here there was a bumper sticker that read ‘Wilmington Has It All’ and yet we have those that want to put another feather in our cap,” he says.

During their own news conference Wednesday, the Wilmington Family Entertainment and Baseball Committee says it’s about economic development and source of civic pride.

“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,” Frank Wren, Braves General Manager told a partisan crowd Wednesday.



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10 Comments on "Former Wilmington mayor speaks out against ballpark agreement"

city tax payer
2015 years 9 months ago

I have a dear friend that owns a second home in the City of Wilmington, she pays city property taxes. This weekend, we were discussing the stadium tax. She said I’ve got to get my vote in, I told her you won’t be able to vote because it will not be on your ballot at home. She will not be allowed to cast her vote with regard to the stadium tax because she is registered to vote in the district that her main residence is in. We have college students and other renters who will be voting on it and they don’t pay city property taxes and then there are the folks that DO pay city property taxes and they can not vote. There is nothing at all right about this. Right is right and wrong is wrong and this is so very wrong!

2015 years 9 months ago

Dukie & T both posted, early on, that downtown business owners were euphoric over the ballpark and the positive impact it would have on their businesses.

I get it now. They likely did not include the business owners who actually own the buildings in which they operate their buisinesses.

That would distort the results. Surprise there.

Mr. Peterson not only operates a business downtown, he owns the building. So he gets it.

Now I wonder if all of those downtown business operators, who do not own the buildings they operate within, have caught on to the liklihood that their landlord will ultimately pass on the cost for the property tax increase to the tenants, who happen to be the business operators?

The light of day, and the reality of what the true costs will be, may open a few eyes.

I wonder if all of the dues paying members of the Chamber of Commerce and Wilmington Downtown are happy knowing their dues may be funding a couple of Directors’ time on this project. Do these business operators really think this downtown ballpark is really in the best interests of their businesses? Or was that just another distortion of fact by the proponents?

What a tangled web they weave when they seek to decieve.

2015 years 9 months ago

Harper Peterson wasn’t perfect but living in Wilmington was much better when he was mayor.

2015 years 9 months ago

lost all credibility when it was his idea to have a convention center and things have gone to hell since then in this city. The infrastructure is crumbling, the roads need patching, and the city owns a building that they can’t even use without pouring millions of dollars into it. I,m not interested in anything Harper Peterson has to say even if I agree with it.

2015 years 9 months ago

to the world of every investment property owner in the city who reside outside the city. They pay taxes; yet have no right to vote on this important issue.

Thankfully, the proponents and supporters of the referendum have so soiled the referendum with false information, Bev Perdue has a better chance at re-election than thsi referendum has of passing.

2015 years 9 months ago

business property owners that don’t reside in the City will not be allowed to vote…not fair at all!

2015 years 9 months ago

I agree with what I’ve seen on most of these posts. Seems to me that City council members always seem to have an agenda when it comes to downtown. That’s why the Memorial Bridge hit 3rd St instead of 5th as was originally planned (now we deal with a drawbridge); that’s why I-40 came into part of town where the traffic had to be handled with a multi-million dollar expressway; that’s why we have a convention center in a place that can’t handle the volume and will continue to lose money. Someone on the council HAS to have a financial interest in this baseball thing. If we really wanted a team here, there are better places to put a park than on a swampy, polluted piece of land on the river. Wilmington needs to decide if it wants to be a sleepy little town with Southern charm or a metropolis with a ball stadium on the river. If it’s the latter, let the people who stand to make the money for the short period of time the team will be financially viable flit the bills. Let’s take care of our infrastructure needs first and see what the future holds.

2015 years 9 months ago

Let Mandalay and the Braves build the park with THEIR money then if they want a ball team here so bad

2015 years 9 months ago

What it comes down to is a handful hope to make big bucks but would prefer someone else take the financial risk, namely the taxpayers, so if the park falls on its face, they will not lose anything.

JoAnn Dixon
2015 years 9 months ago

Its bad decisons city councils about Atlant braves here.You should,
bought the Baltimore 0’s here in stead.I don;t like atlanta at all.They cheat on others teams that comes.
I rather pay for enter for concerts&arts to.You better look other sorts for fun games.
My family don;t want our taxes go up.We have enought of everything here.I rather go out of town go see ball games durham&raleigh.

We have colleges games at UNCW&wilmington shark here&soccer.



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