ONLY ON 3 & WHQR-FM: The only 'official' baseball stadium debate TONIGHT at 7 p.m.
 

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY/WHQR) -- WWAY NewsChannel 3 and WHQR-FM 91.3 are excited to announce that we will be co-hosting Wilmington's only "OFFICIAL" baseball stadium debate featuring Mayor Bill Saffo and City Councilman Kevin O'Grady along with "Vote No Stadium Tax" spokesperson Scott Harry and Jim Rafferty, who is also with the group.

This will be the only debate featuring both the mayor and the anti-tax funded stadium group.

It will be TONIGHT beginning at 7 p.m. on WHQR-FM 91.3 and on RTV, as well as streamed live at whqr.org and at WWAYTV3.com. On Time Warner Cable RTV is channel 106, on ATMC channel 903, on Charter Cable channel 145 and over the air at 3.2.

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.

... the City "accidentally" pulled up a whole bunch of them.

Apparently, they made a Freudian Slip :-)

they do not have VOTE on them which means, if I understood a previous post, that they do not qualify as political signs or at least confuse the low paid workers who have been picking them up.

"Among the many discussions that come up about the stadium bond issue we seem to see a common thread about property taxes being used as opposed to sales taxes to fund the stadium.
We could fund this with a tax on rooms or general sales tax – but in the NSS report it was clear these things were discussed, and deemed not appropriate for the stadium. NSS even concluded that an additional 3% on room taxes would make Wilmington’s room tax the highest in the state if it went up to 9%.
The convention center is funded this way with room occupancy taxes (ROT) going into a fund that the city has opened for this purpose. The fund started, and built up until the construction project was completed. Then it started dispersing it’s funds to cover the cost of the bond and interest and any operating losses. It was felt by the CC supporters that eventually the CC would become self sustaining operationally (meaning the ROT would pay for the bond and interest, and profits from shows would pay for salaries and other operating costs)

The problem is that the CC has not performed as well as anyone anticipated. In fact it has lost a large amount of money over the years to included 2010 as indicated by the CAFR of 2010 pg 113:

http://www.wilmingtonnc.gov/Portals/0/documents/Finance/Financial%20Repo...

This shows the CC fund at only $302,000 dollars.
Now lets look at 2011 CAFR and we see an explanation of the CC and parking deck funds (for the CC)

http://www.wilmingtonnc.gov/Portals/0/documents/Finance/Financial%20Repo...
Pg 79:

Convention Center; principal payments due annually on June 1 in installments ranging from $1,010,000 to $3,825,000 beginning June 1, 2017 through June 1, 2038. (average $2,417,000)

And the parking deck:

Pg 79:
portion of the parking deck adjacent to the Convention Center; principal payments due annually on June 1 in installments ranging from $425,000 to $700,000 through June 1, 2028; (average $550,000)

The combined installment payment is averaged out to $2,960,000 per year

(By the way Surf City Tom – I also found this on page 87 “the City entered into a three year contractual agreement beginning November 1, 2010 with SMG, LLP (SMG) for the operation of the City’s Convention Center Facility (Center) for a management fee of $100,000 per year.
Under the agreement, the operations of the Center are maintained in a separate non-incorporated organization”)

Now in 2011 the CC fund level dropped to $158,553 after a transfer of ($5,292,990) out of the special purpose fund set up to collect ROTs. In other words – the CC continues to gush monies with no end in sight. And we pay $100,000 in fees to SMG to get this type of result.

Why is this important for the stadium? Well with a bond like we have before us now – the city just pays back a fixed amount each year. We only get $500,000 from them and Mandalay keeps all revenues but if a sales tax were to be used and sales went down the city would have to fund the stadium through general revenues to make up for reduced sales tax receipts. This is what they are facing with CC – when the fund runs out the required monies needed to make the bond and interest payment would come out of the general fund. That is why they didn’t use a sales tax to fund the stadium – people that didn’t want to buy something to support the stadium could drive revenues down to where the city would have to rob from the general revenues funds to pay for it. The property taxpayers were the biggest group they could tax – they couldn’t lose money on it because RE is back up in value and climbing again AND the point could be made that by taxing the collective property owners the cost would be much lower per person which is exactly what the pro side is arguing. It is at its core socialism – government building provided by the “collective” so that a very few could benefit."

Vog

Mr Neumann stat recently that trying to get a stadium here was a 12 year process which is culminating with our rejection of this bond. There have been discussions since the previous mayor was in office.
A very long time ago I was meeting with a friend down town (a business owner) and learned that Mandalay had already ruled out ROT as a source of funding for the stadium. He was then asked which financing procedure would garner the support of the down town merchants and landowners. It was decided a property tax was the BEST way to spread the cost around without hurting downtown businesses.
Then what happened?
Then NSS surveyed the down town businesses using city and Chamber Data Bases (again more business people) folks as to how much support they would give the stadium and how much they'd be willing to pay for it.
They knew, before the survey was conducted, that this was the best way to show business support for the stadium.
They basically told them that they would not charge them for the stadium, nor pursue taxing their customers as a way to get their support. Yes many of them do pay property taxes - and some of them pay a LOT of property taxes - but on the whole they had all agreed this was the least painful way to go - FOR THEM.
The deck had been stacked..........
Unfortunately they did not expect the vehemence of the voter back lash against this stadium tax. When Civitas I came out many people scoffed. Civitas II confirmed what Civitas I did.
It was then that hyphen lady was approached to spearhead a PPP poll in the hopes of equalizing the Civitas polling results. Yes it was paid for privately, however the intent was right from the start to use the poll results as a means to jump start their ad effort with a poll showing increasing support for the stadium.
What they got however, was not good news.
They changed some of the questions and asked again.
The results were astonishingly similar and close to Civitas. (I have heard it ranged from 76% to 84% against with an margin of +/-4%) There were so many questions asked the results were hard to quantify - but the overall drift was and is decidedly against the tax.
I firmly believe that someone or some group got it in their heads that this was so popular that they could "market" this so as to insure it's passage.
From what I've seen outside events have made a bad situation worse for the pro side.
Forget the marketing errors like the Cancer awareness T-shirts that had not one mention of cancer on them.
Or the signs with 10 words on them that are impossible to read at 35 mph. Those were silly mistakes made by someone with roks in their heads.
No, I believe the progress energy rate hike, Insurance rate hike, CFPUA rate hike, possible $300M school bond issue, the baseball bond that takes in $21M more than its supposed to and the continued failure of the CC has driven people to not trust Saffo and company. This trust failure extends to Mandalay who has stated they would pursue other avenues for funding should the bond fail.
Apparently most folks feel they should have been doing this in the first place.
I've heard more and more people say why didn't hey pursue private investment right from the start?
"the people" should not be the "first avenue" of funding for stadium builds. But I go back to the interaction between Mandalay and business people and think how could I have missed that "sign" of things to come. Of how businesses put Mandalay into the position of having to come to us first. And how bad this makes Mandalay look.
I hope the MOU gets cancelled upon referendum failure because I suspect the backlash against Mandalay will be very steep should they come up with private funding now, instead of coming in with it right from the start

Vog

I knew some of this generally; not all of it specificaly.

I am not surprised. No wonder Dukie & Terry attack anyone with the audacity to ask questions.

When you look back at their posts, they all praise the ballpark to the heavans; they note all of the revenue which will be generated.

And they all react to fact with socialist and personal attacks.

They forget too, if the insurance rate revision passes and is approved, they add 30% to current homeowner and dwelling fire rates.

And on NOvember 7, when this initiative has crashed in a firey heap, they'll blame Bush. Every other Democrat does on any issue.

I'm surprised they have not had the White House occupant or his Court Jester down to speak in support of another redistribution of wealth.

I guess everyone sees this from their own perspective Ms. Jennette. I went out one night and put out 25 signs. The next day when I passed through the same corridor, half of them had either been stepped on or picked up and thrown in the ditch nearby.

What I see is the pro-side ran out of legitimate argument a long time ago and has resorted to trying to silence any opposition.

Now as far as disappearing, I haven't seen a reduction in the Yes signs along medians or intersections. I have spoken to quite a few business owners along some of the main corridors to get their permission first before putting out a Vote No sign. As the owner of private property they can remove signs along the right of way that runs across their property. They have all said they disagree with tax increases to support a stadium and they have been picking up the "Yes" signs posted on their property. I imagine that quite a few individual business property owners have been doing the same. They recognize their taxes will go up a whole lot more than the $4.20/month so heralded by Port City Baseball.

As a eductor in higher ed and a former collegiate women's basketball coach I know the value that sports can bring to a community. I can't wait to go to the debate and share my support to the Mayor and to the baseball field. It will only be a benefit to our community! GO Braves!

Anyone with any degree of business acumen will realize the baseball ( i.e multi-use facility ) deal being proposed is a losing proposition , other than PE teachers and jock sniffers. This UNEDUCATED group of low information people and a small group of beneficiaries are dismissing definitive evidence that shows the project to be a liability to the city and over obligating the taxpayer with another white elephant. The convention center is the other liability that creates a cumulative burden on the citizens. The proceeds from the convention center diverts money away from our beaches and the ballpark dilutes the disposal income distribution per family against competing interests (i.e Sharks and Hammerheads) even further in a struggling economy. There will be no REAL wealth creation in OUR community due to these projects.Another economic development project that puts the taxpayer on the hook in a "pocketbook election" does not bode will for the Wilmington city council. The outcome of this referendum should be a preview of the fate of the city council and the mayor and warning shot to those on city staff to keep some fresh resumes' on hand.

As to the EDUCATOR , keep dribbling that ball and blowing that whistle because it appears this limited skill set is what you do best. A public sector employee is essentially a liability on the balance sheet for the private sector ( the wealth creators ) so try to make a more positive impression , before exposing your ignorance , that taxpayers are getting the biggest bang for their buck.

I thought it was a multi-use, stadium complex. We already have "baseball fields" all over town. Add to that the "Go Braves" remark and I'll show you someone who has no idea what they're talking about.

By now you must be kicking yourself in the behind for starting out with that "As an eductor (educator) in higher ed" stuff. Yep, that really impressed the heck out of everybody.

When you go and show your support "to" the Mayor ask him for one of those Pink T-Shirts, just like the ones T-Ball and Dukie proudly wear (well, not actually outside where people would laugh at them). I'm sure there's still a few that haven't been sold yet.

Sorry, you're a phys. ed. instructor at CFCC, not exactly something that makes you an expert in business. You're just someone with another opinion and a wrong one at that. This is so like the Port City Baseball group all along, representing themselves as something they aren't. Just like this stadium, it isn't going to be everything they keep promoting it to be, trotting out false surveys, supposed economic impact studies by false prophets (Terry Spencer) and now....

You can't spell e-d-u-c-a-t-o-r, and you use poor elementary grammar. I smell another troll. You aren't good at English and you aren't good at math if you think this makes for a "benefit to our community".
What is it you teach? I need to make sure my son avoids your classes. You'd hate him, he can spell and do math and all that fancy stuff.

Once again you have posted something that is nothing but negative. You must be a very angry person Katherine. You need to find yourself a man or a better man or something to help you become a better person. Who has angered you? If it was some time ago, please just let it go. I read your comments last week about the signs. I guess you are a perfect person. If you were, you would not need to resort to being a nasty mean person. Turn that frown upside down.

Lol, who's angry? I'm actually amused. The irony of the post I responded to was priceless.
I guess I just need to get me a better man, since according to you that's what it takes to make my tone clear to you. Weird theory you have, but whatever gets you through your day, I suppose.

Katherine.

It's likely Terry or Dukie with their personal attacks.

Watch their reaction when the referendum, which would place a $64 Million albatross around the property taxpayers of Wilmington fails.

Then it will be Bush's fault.

So I guess by default that means it most definately is NOT:
- A 58 plus million dollar taxpayer debt
- One of the worst agreements a city could enter into with a professional baseball business
- A chance for a few insiders to unload a toxic piece of land
- The worst possible choice, Mandalay, to hook up with for a stadium when another organization was interested in talking about using private funding instead of taxes

You decided to "highlight" your credentials so I decided to check out the courses CFCC says you're teaching this fall.
- Fit and Well for Life
- Aerobics 1
- Walking for Fitness
- Tennis – Beginning
Not sure which one of those courses makes you an expert on economic developement or even baseball for that matter.

I can't think of one logical reason to just rely on your word when you say "It will only be a benefit", especially when you back that up with absolutely nothing except those excellent credentials you highlighted. My goodness, you don't even know the name of the team that would play here! (Hint: It's not the Braves)

I had no idea that CFCC was spending money on courses on fitness walking or on basic aerobics, etc. What does that have to do with getting a decent college education?

Money's tight these days. Does CFCC really feel comfortable with courses such as these being an appropriate expenditure of funds?

Maybe that's what happens when you spend other people's money. Sounds like the same kind of attitude downtown businesses and city council seem to have about spending other people's money.

Perhaps that's why this CFCC "professor" of "higher" education is so cavalier about spending taxpayer dollars. She just doesn't know any better.

This is not meant to be derogatory or condescending, but I don't know what the relevance of your statement "a eductor in higher ed" is meant to imply. Being a PE teacher at a community college isn't exactly the same thing as being a professor of economics as an endorsement of public spending.

I just thought that was a little disingenuous.

For you to claim to be an educator in higher education and a former collegiate women's basketball coach, your statement puzzles me. You do realize it is not the Atlanta Braves that they are proposing to bring to Wilmington, it is the Lynchburg Hillcats. It is not major league baseball, it is minor league A baseball. With your higher education would you please explain how spending 58 million dollars in tax payer money is a "Value" for the tax payers spending it? During this whole process, the people for this project just issue blanket statements without any verifiable proof to back them up. Would you care to be different and offer verifiable economic proof to back up your statement? Your statement sounds like many others put out by Mr. Spencer and Mr. Kuebler in the past, especially with the "Go Braves" added to the end of the statement.

The fact that there is another option out there that gives this area a stadium without tax payer funding should end the discussion for the current deal. Any economic benefit the area receives from a stadium happens immediately if there is not millions of dollars in loans/debt that have to be paid off before realizing the benefits. Wouldn't this be a much greater option/value for our area?

Ms Keith and as an educated person you would be aware of the academic studies that say there's no economic impact from this type of stadium?

So the pro side is now relegated to trotting out the "its a benefit to our community" argument?
Puh-lease. The city's putting forth of $54M in taxpayer funds is an immoral act of government inference in the private marketplace.
THAT is not a "feel good" argument.

Vog

The only way a taxpayer funded baseball stadium "benefits" this community is in lining the pockets of crooked politicians.

Did Port City Baseball, the Mayor, and Mandalay really expect the citizens of Wilmington to vote themselves a tax increase so a billionaire beggar can have a free stadium? The fact that they thought the citizens were gullible enough to believe the lies is insulting.

The true test for this deal is this. Read the agreement. Remove from the agreement where it says the City of Wilmington and insert your name. Now sign the agreement. If you are unwilling to sign the deal with you instead of the city on the hook for the payments, then you should also be unwilling to vote for the bond referendum. It is that simple.

The fact that there is another option out there that gives this area a stadium without tax payer funding should end the discussion for the current deal. Any economic benefit the area receives from a stadium happens immediately if there is not millions of dollars in loans that have to be paid off first.

If there is still anyone that has any doubts, go back and read what was claimed the Convention Center would do for the area. None of what was claimed came true. It has become a money pit that is bottomless and requires more and more money to be wasted. They are now recycling the same lies to justify this baseball stadium. The baseball stadium will make money for Mandalay, the Braves, and their billionaire owner because the deal the city signed gives them total control of the stadium and all of the revenue the stadium will generate. The tax payers get to pay for the stadium, and get to pay every single time they want to go to an event held in the stadium. This is like buying a house, sending in your mortgage payment each month, and also paying 10 dollars each night when you come home from work and want to enter your house……..This agreement should start out……..Once upon a time, there was a city government so stupid………

Now we are hearing that Mandalay has other options if the bond issue does not pass???

I can only speak for myself, but after Mandalay, PCB, the Chamber, and the Mayor and Council, an everyone else for this project tried to rip off the tax payers using all the lies and deception they have, DO NOT come back with a private funded option now. To me, they are no better than a caught shoplifter that now wants to pay for the merchandise they were trying to steal. I do not want this thief ever to be allowed into my store, nor will I ever trust them again.

Ripken was going to do this with private funding from the start. Mandalay and the Mayor conspired to freeze them out and steal from the tax payers. I will not trust Mandalay or the Mayor ever again. I do not want them in charge of anything. It will always be in the back of my mind what they will try next. The old if you put the fox in charge of the hen house, he will have chicken dinner every single time quote comes to mind.

At this point I am burned out over minor league baseball. In spite of what Chuck and Terry claim, I think the Sharks are pretty close to single A ball. I think the city/county should fix the concession stand(s) at legion stadium. Let's support the Sharks and wait for a minor league deal that is completely funded by the private sector without known thieves (Mandalay and the Mayor)in charge......

Y'all are talking like it's going to take thousands of dollars out of your pockets. For the average home owner, it will come out to around $20 or $30 a year. OMG, a whopping $30!!! Those against the Stadium tax are spending more than that on signs & billboards.
The truth is that no other team has ever made an offer like this to Wilmington. No other minor league team has lasted more than 2-years here, primarily because of having to play at UNCW. The Braves are guaranteeing 20-years minimum of professional baseball here in the Port City. The $500,000 a year that they will be paying the city is a better deal than other cities get. We can use this stadium for so many other things. This team could bring togetherness & a sense of pride to the city. Perhaps, the CAA Baseball Tourney could move here? concerts? There will be a lot more people coming to town to spend money as a result of this stadium. If the city & people of Wilmington let this slip through their fingers, then it will truly be a trajedy.

It has become patently obvious that this entire stadium issue has very little to do with baseball in the first place. Most of this has to do with a group of insiders, some of whom are currently in city government, trying to sell off a piece of toxic real estate. Add in a couple of other insider deals with Atlanta/Mandalay and you pretty much have the picture.

All of that would be fine if this insider group wasn't trying to get the taxpayers to fund their little business venture instead of investing in it themselves.

Vote YES only if you really like someone else taking money from your pocket for their own personal use without your permission.

Correct spelling and no name calling? The two of you must have gotten together deep down in your bunker of last minute desperation strategies and written a joint piece. Too bad your signature of consistent untruthfulness is all over it. The only number in the entire post that is even nominally correct is the "2-years" a minor league team lasted.

You're right about one thing though: "The truth is that no other team has ever made an offer like this to Wilmington". It's probably one of the worst offers made by any team to any city in a long, long, time. It's the kind of offer that pretty much says right up front that Mandatlanta thinks Wilmingtonians just fell off the proverbial turnip truck. One can't help but wonder why certain city "leaders", people with real estate and legal backgrounds, are so adamantly embracing such an obviously terrible deal.

This team has done exactly the opposite of bringing together a sense of pride to the city. What is has done is to highlight those in city government who apparently are acting in their own best personal interests. I suppose that's a good thing if voters take that message to heart. If they don't, they deserve what they get.

Wilmington doesn't have to be the greatest city on the planet. It certainly doesn't have to emulate cities like Myrtle Beach and others in order to be a great place to live. It just needs to be a place where the infrastructure works successfully and and city leaders are looking out for their constituents. It needs to be a place that can simply and comfortably be called "home". What could be more important than that?

Don't let others take that away from you. Vote "NO" to a taxpayer funded stadium.

Dukie or MrT. Same factless malarky; just a different name.

You guys are the best ammunition the taxpayer funded ballpark opponents have to see this referendum nose dive.

Keep up the good work.

If this is such a good deal; if the downtown merchants are going to benefit so much, how about an increase in the general sales tax?

And if the hotel owners are going to benefit, how about a 3 cent increase in the hotel occupancy tax?

Folks might buy it then if all are going to share in the burden and not just the real property taxpayers.

Why NOT the sales tax?
Why not the hotel tax?

Hotel first - Chap 10 NSS
" It is possible that the City of Wilmingtoncould raise its occupancy tax from three (3) percent to six (6) percent, whichcould generate approximately $2.3 million in annual incremental tax revenues.  In order to increase the room occupancy tax, it would require approval of the General Assembly.
Based on 20‐year bonds and a taxable interest rate of 4.0 percent, a three (3) percent increase in the City occupancy tax could fund up to $31 million in ballpark development costs.
It should be noted that a three (3) percent increase in the occupancy tax would result in a nine (9) percent occupancy tax in the City of Wilmington, which would make it the highest in the state."

This tells that:
A - They talked to the hotels and the said not just no, but HELL NO.
B - they need a quick resolution without the Gen Assembly being involved so "Lets pull one over on the property taxpayers". Remember it was the General Assembly that stopped annexation. Saffo did not want to get slapped around again.

Sales Tax? Again Chp 10 NSS:
 The City of Wilmington does not have the authority to change the current sales tax distribution or how much money it receives.    The City of Wilmington has included an initiative to amend LOST revenue distribution in its legislative agenda.  The North Carolina General Assembly is the only other entity, beyond the county, that can change the distribution formula. Based on the City’s lack of control regarding the amount of LOST revenue it receives, the use of sales taxes to fund ballpark development is not likely."
The sales tax is a county or state tax. I don't think the city can do anything about it and again they need general assembly permission.

I am confused as to why all of the sudden they needed to speed this up, but it seems like this is becoming an all or nothing deal when in fact saying no could be the best thing for the city.

BTW I early voted today. Sorry Chuck I voted "NO". Much to the horror of my wife I yelled out in line "How many are voting AGAINST the stadium tax?" I counted 19 out of 24 people voting against. Looks like Civitas is holding up

Vog  

my point was that all of these downtown businesses which are to sprout up or continue to have increased prosperity, from a property taxpayer increase, should put some chips on the table as well.

Sooner or later, tenants will. They just don't get it yet.

The "Sounds of Silence" are becoming more prominent.

For the record, has anyone seen the results of the well publicized poll?

Has anyone seen a pink tee in public which promotes baseball?

Has anyone seen one of those high priced, well funded media advertisments which the dashing duo were promotoing as the linchpin of their campaign?

Does Terry really think he can get another job in banking after all of this?

"For the record, has anyone seen the results of the well publicized poll?"

For the record? No
Seen the publicized poll - yes
Supposedly as bad as Civitas, which is the unofficial reason why they're not releasing the results.

You & I both know that in spite of hyphen-lady's rant that if the results had been favorable to the pro baseball side they would have released the polling results.
That said its also apparent that Mandalay thinks it will get defeated as they've already been asked what they'd do. The article clearly said they'd pursue other avenues. (Meaning private financing)
Funny how they took it off the table in June (To see if they could steal it from taxpayers) only to pursue it after the referendum gets defeated.

Mandalay is not to be trusted by us for any reason in the future.

Vog

Guest1218, you must live in a crackhouse. As a matter of fact, over the life of the bond, it will cost me thousands of dollars. It really is a simple mathematic formula...

If I were to vote yes, that would be the real "trajedy" because it would show that all that education was for naught.

Just say no.