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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 and at 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.


Guest 1218

"No other minor league team has lasted more than 2-years here, primarily because of having to play at UNCW"

Here we go the "pro" side spewing falsehoods again.
Explain this to me
How did the Winston Salem Dash survive for YEARS playing at Wake Forest University field?
No beer sales allowed
Tough to find on campus
Out of the way
Can you answer that? Nah didn't think so.
How about the team in Greenville SC?
They shared a stadium with the Citdel and another college there
No beer
Hell they had no lights !!!
You know what? Both of those teams survived and thrived and those two cities? They rewarded those teams with much needed and DESERVED stadiums. Atlanta is asking for us to give them the stadium first without proving to the city they will "make it".

You earn a stadium around here you just don't "get one" for asking.

There's nothing wrong with using Brooks Field as a test ground for popularity. They sell out Brooks? By all means build them a stadium.
Sorry the pro side sounds like a bunch of spoiled children "Oh we want a new stadium because Greensboro's got one"
Councilman O'Grady said we need to be like Greensboro? Why?

Earn the stadium - don't ask for it



First, why is it that you think the teams couldn't make it at UNCW? Parking is safe, abundant and free. Campus access is pretty good. Both of these factors are better than the alternatively proposed stadium downtown.

Second, UNCW has hosted 4 of the last 6 CAA tournaments with the tournament returning to Wilmington in 2014 for the next 2 years. We don't have trouble attracting and hosting the CAA tournament at Brooks field now, why would we need a $60 million stadium to do so in the future? Answer, we won't.

The Braves aren't guaranteeing us 20 years, their guarantee is 18 months if they pulll out of town.

We are already losing money on a convention center which is due to cost the tax-payers as the Room Occupancy Tax fund gets depleted, CFPUA hasn't met an increase they didn't like, Progress Energy is right behind the CFPUA and next will be the approval of the Insurance commission to raise homeowner's rates 30%. We can control this much; Vote No to the city council's proposal to raise any taxes to fund a baseball stadium.

20 or 30 dollars?

For someone's tax on this to be $20, their house value would need to be $80,000. Where are all these $80,000 homes in Wilmington? I need to buy one myself.
And, no, this is not a good deal. Look at the article StarNews has up today, with details on how other stadiums have been funded. Anyone who says we're getting a good deal is either lying or is uninformed.

Check Your Facts

Winston Salem, Greensboro, Zebulon, even Charlotte, all have much, much better deals than this. If you really think this is a good deal, you clearly haven't looked at the deals other cities have gotten.

The only winners in this would be Atlanta and Mandalay. The city and it's residents get nothing but the tab.

Guest Star

How right you are:

Why vote “No”? How about this. In the NSS report on new ballpark comparisons they list the latest 11 fields that have been built, Wilmington makes #12. Lets compare prices for all 12 on a per seat basis from MOST expensive to least:
Winstons Salem – $7492/seat.
Wilmington – $6727/seat.
Midland MI – $5789/seat.
Charleston WVa -$5011/seat.
Bowling Green Ky – $4845/seat.
Fort Wayne In – $3888/seat.
Greenville SC – $3508/seat.
Rome Ga – $3134/seat.
Greeensboro NC – $2869/seat.
Cedar Rapids MI – $2830/seat.
Peoria Il – $2785/seat.
Myrtle Beach SC – $1818/seat.
Why? Why is our stadium costing 5 times what Myrtle Beach cost? Why is it costing over twice as much as Greensboro?

baseball stadium

I am 70 years old and my wife 64. We are both retired and living on a fixed income. On recent news reports I have been told my power bill is increasing, my home insurance is increasing, car insurance increasing, my health insurance just increased $22.00 a month. Now tell me how us seniors on fixed incomes are suppose to pay all these increases? And yet the city wants me to feel good about an increase in my city taxes to fund a baseball stadium? Mr. Saffo I know you have no income
problems and that is good for you but why do you think all of us have the luxury of a high yearly income like yourself? You wouldn't understand how my wife and I just had to cut back to one cup of coffee a day since it also has increased in price as has all other food items.
Mr. Saffo how can you in any sense of the word not have a conscience about not everyone being as well off as you??? And here is the worst part of it all. I worked hard all my life to pay for this home my wife and I have (and no Mr. Mayor it is not in an exclusive development as where you live). It is a nondescript home but it is ours'. Now with all the increases we are being bombarded with how long can we hold on to it. You want to take my money to fund a baseball stadium that we will never attend a game. Sadly I don't even see how we can afford to sell and move out of this county which we would love to do and buy a home of equal size that our out of town children can still come home to visit with us.
And beyond us "regular" folks not being able to pay for a luxury you wealthier folks want Mr. Mayor, how about the traffic snarls that events downtown already cause. Now you want to add even more of these snarls with multiple baseball games downtown?
Oh only if you had to live one day in my shoes Mayor Saffo in the REAL world.

Do what I'm doing

I am building a house in Pender County. No more city taxes no more New Hanover county taxes. No more Cape FEAR Utility Nazi's good bye Progress Energy. I have had enough of this county. I will not miss it nor will I visit your ballpark IF it is built.

My parents are in the same

My parents are in the same boat as you. Their only saving grace is that the forced annexation of monkey junction was defeated. At this time they do not live in the city, but my retired father had to return to work just so that they can afford to eat.

The one person in my family who would be the most adversely affected by this unnecessary and improper tax increase is my widowed mother-in-law. She cannot work full-time due to health issues. She is barely surviving as it is and between the requested increase by Progress Energy and the possible tax increase, I don't know what she will do. It would be a shame for her to have to sell the home that she shared with her husband and where they raised their children just so some fat cat politician can line his pockets and a few people can go see a ballgame.

If you like to watch baseball so much, there are plenty of places to go watch it. Wilmington does have four public high schools and at least two private schools who have baseball teams. UNC-W has baseball. There is the Wilmington Post 10 team you can support. There is also little league. If it's all about bringing baseball to the Port City, we don't need to bring it. It is already here. And what we have already will not break the backs of the taxpayers.

Re Baseball Stadium

Mr. Eller,

Regrettably The Mayor and Council have lost sight of the fact they are supposed to represent ALL of the people, not just themselves and special interest. It is painfully clear that the good ole boy network is alive and well within the city government. What makes this even more painful is there is another group out there that will build this stadium using private investment. With this information out there, one has to ask why anyone would support spending 58 million of tax payer money on a project someone else will do with private investment? The only logical answer is to follow the money.When in doubt, follow the money.

Rumor has it that The Mayor will not seek re-election. If this is true, then this is one of the reasons that he trots Councilman O'Grady around with him like a puppy on a leash. Councilman O'Grady is being "groomed" to be his replacement. Everyone needs to remember in the future what this current lot of self serving politicians have tried to do and vote them out of office.

I believe this bond will be defeated. There are many people that do not care to become a Welfare Center for a billionaire beggar. Everyone just needs to follow up and remove the people from office that tried to pull off this scam.......

Family interests?

How much does Mayor Saffo's family's businesses stand to profit from the construction of the stadium?

stand up to the plate

This is a very important issue and I am so thankful that Scott Harry and Jim Rafferty are standing up for the tax payers of this city. This issue is about more than just building a stadium, it is about abuse of power and manipulation. The abuse of power is using a political office to promote a business endeavor that benefits big money hotshots in the sports entertainment industry on the backs of property owners. Manipulation; using city funds to promote and advocate a position that voters will decide, earmarking property taxes for the bond issue that will affect a smaller voter block, further guaranteeing a win through votes from non-property owners and those with low tax burdens. A vote of yes is saying that it is okay for the city to invest in a business with tax revenue; what road will this lead down, further pet projects? How glamorous this is compared to sewers, police, roads and schools.

No Tax Commerical

The No Tax Stadium crowd is airing the most stupid commercial against the stadium. The commentator or idiot says the city of Wilmington is giving 75 million dollars to a baseball team. The fact is the city is spending 37 million to build a multiple use stadium that will be owned by the citizens of Wilmington. The facts are that the Atlanta Braves will pay $500,000 dollars per year for at least 20 years to help offset the cost of the stadium and reserve the privilege to play baseball in one of Americas greatest cities. This cheap ad, that totally misrepresents the truth, goes to show the depths of deception that this low life organization will go to deceive the citizens of Wilmington. Your chance to move Wilmington forward is coming. Vote Yes.

Do your math

WOW, the Braves are going to pay 500k for 20 years. Can you use a calculator? 500k * 20 is only 10m. That leaves the Tax payers paying the rest of the money.

The Braves have no problem paying their players millions of dollars a year. Wonder how they do that? They get a city to put a team in for them and they take all the money and pay little in return.

In 20 years they will want the tax payers to build them a new stadium because this one we haven't paid for yet is too old for them.

People think about this. I have said this before if this was a great investment people would be lining up for a piece of the pie.

That $500,000 annual payment has some adjustments

reduce the amount by the rent which Mandalanta will pay for office space. Around $200,000 annually.

Don't forget the $2.5 Million which is to be paid for furniture for Mandalanta.

There may be other adjustments; but hopefully the voters of Wilmington will see what this referendum really is -- funding for a riverfront albatross to be built on toxic earth.

Vote NO


There is no indication in the MOU where the money goes when it leaves Mandalays hands and goes to the city.
I would assume that would be determined in the final agreement. Just like the rent payment would be determined in the final agreement which we will NOT vote on.
I have serious doubts about this agreement but I believe the bond is defeated so we'll NEVER get to see that agreement.
If its anything like the MOU, we better hold on to our fist born children because the city may have promised them to Mandalanta.....

This deal is way too favorable to Mandalay



Personally I am offended at Mr. T resorting to personal attacks on people brave enough to step forward and say what they think. I have been impressed with the way the spokesperson for NO STADIUM TAX has been civil and respectful of all who weigh in. Mr. T, I think your name calling will assure you a result you didn't want. You have definitely turned me off, & surely I'm not the only one. You owe Mr. Harry an apology - will you be brave enough to do the right thing?? I think not. Way to go, Mr. T....

Mr. T

The deception is purely on your side. Because I don't hide behind a screen name, I make certain my statements are accurate. $75,000,000 is the amount of money that would be taken from the people of Wilmington. Yes, it's more than the stadium and interest. That's the point! Aren't you sick and tired of the government taking the money you earned and wasting it on inappropriate projects? Regarding your other points, #1 An idiot's IQ is less than 20. Fortunately, mine is well above that. If you'd like to try a few more names on me, I'd be glad to meet you privately and we can decide together what you'll call me from here on out? #2 The ad was not cheap, #3 The ad is accurate but clearly does not fit with your warped view of the how the government should work. The government is there to "govern" not to fund amusements for the masses. #4 The organization is run by entrepreneurs, people who have built businesses, created jobs, they have created and lived within budgets. These people are FAR from low life. They are the foundation of every community. If you have a job, you owe your livelihood to one.

Vote No Stadium Tax! Put the government back in it's place.

Baseball Hypocrites

I'd say that your statement above calls into question your credibility as a self-proclaimed "private investor."

You are either ignorant of the facts or are willingly turning a blind eye to them. The taxes collected by the city are going to range between $3.2 and $3.5 million year depending on which number you pull off the city website. Multiply that out by the 20 year term, Terry. Even with moderate appreciation we are over the $70 million mark. Perhaps a third grader with a calculator can explain it to you.

Bring some substance to the table for a change besides more obfuscations.

The best "No Tax Stadium" commercials are actually ...

... most anything you post.

I can't seem to ever recall a self-described marketing guru such as yourself paint himself into such a corner. I'm just taking a wild guess here, but it may have something to do with all of the nasty name calling and the consistent untruthfullness you continue to purvey in each and every post.

Todays highlights: The stadium will ONLY cost 37 million (even a 5th Grader knows that's flawed math) and calling the "NO Tax Stadium crowd" (all disclosed polls indicate that to be about 80% of voters) a "low life organization".

Nice going. Please do keep posting. No one does it better than you.

(Speaking of "disclosed" polls, I can't seem to recall you ever disclosing the results of the PPP poll to this day. If you really were about representing "the truth" you would have disclosed those results a long time ago. Hmmm.)


Mr. T is getting desperate and does not understand the English language anymore. What does 37 million financed for 20 years with interest and loan insurance come to? If the Braves stay for 20 years, and that is a big if, he claims they will pay 10 million in rent. If you subtract the 2.9 million Mandalay gets up front for furniture, the $350,000.00 Mandalay gets for naming rights, and the rent deduction for office space that I still do not understand, Mandalay's rent will be approx. $300,000.00 or less per year. If they leave early they will have still spent 2.9 million dollars that the tax payers financed for 20 years. The 75 million dollars is what the bond will cost the tax payers over 20 years if property values stay the same as they are now. This whole project from the start has been a huge deception from the people supporting this con game. For you to call anybody dishonest, is laughable. If you are so all knowing, and care so much about Wilmington, why don't you sign your name? You sir are a worthless shill with something to gain from the project.

What Mandalay Will Really Pay

I was wrong in the above post about the naming rights figures. I did not account for the fact that these revenues are paid every year, not as a one time payment. Thank-you Vog for pointing this out.

MR. T aka Terry Spencer Wrote;
“The fact is the city is spending 37 million to build a multiple use stadium that will be owned by the citizens of Wilmington. The facts are that the Atlanta Braves will pay $500,000 dollars per year for at least 20 years to help offset the cost of the stadium and reserve the privilege to play baseball in one of America’s greatest cities.”

Now read from the feasibility study the city paid NSS close to a quarter of a million dollars to complete in ½ the normal time because of time constraints. With this “rushed study” completed, the tax payers still have not been shown the final deal. The outline of the deal is bad enough, but I wonder what else is included that the Mayor does not want made public before the election?

NSS Chap 8, pg 99; "Comparable ballpark naming rights agreements ranged from 10 to 20 years in length and with annual values ranging from $170,000 to $300,000 per year. Overall, the average comparable ballpark naming rights agreement was for an average of 13 years with an annual value of $252,857. Several of the most recent naming rights deals at comparable venues have an annual value of $300,000."

Now with this information in hand let’s break down the rent Mandalay will pay. If you deduct just the naming rights revenue that Mandalay gets every year depending on the deal, the rent becomes in the range of $200,000.00 to $330,000.00 per year. If you deduct the 2.9 million dollars the city is going to hand Mandalay up front to buy furniture with, then the rent becomes in the range of $55,000.00 to $185,000.00 per year. Now if you also consider that the cost of office space for 35 full time employees is “deducted” from the rent up front and Mandalay gets to charge the city to oversee up to 10 non baseball events per year, Mandalay quite possibly will not pay any rent……..they might turn a profit.

Mandalay should be paying $500,000.00 a year in rent period. They should not get the naming rights for a stadium that tax payers pay for. They should not get handed 2.9 million interest free dollars up front from a fund that the tax payers will pay debt service on for 20 years. The office space should be included in the stadium rent, not deducted from it. Whoever is responsible for negotiating this deal for the tax payers took a big ole swig from the cup of stupid. It is not any wonder Mandalay is desperate for the tax payers to approve this deal. They probably cannot believe they walked out of months of negotiations with such a sweetheart of a deal. Mr. Kuebler was indeed correct about the deal getting sweeter and sweeter....for Mandalay.

For a stadium that will be payer funded and owned by the tax payers of Wilmington, why do Mandalay, the Braves, and their billionaire owner get all of the profits? They also get all ticket sale revenues. They get all the concessions and memorabilia sales. And……….if this isn't enough, they get the entire “in stadium” advertising also.

It is no wonder at all why the Billionaire Beggars all over this country want to own sports franchises, they are a cash cow that tax payers are expected to fund……..over, and over, and over again.

*****VOTE NO***** This is nothing more than a corporate welfare scheme. Tell these Billionaire Beggars to put on their big boy pants and pay their own way for a change. The people supporting this either have something to gain personally or also took a big ole swig from the cup of stupid…..

Dr. Wilson

Thanks for giving me credit for spotting the TRUE income stream for naming rights.

"They should not get the naming rights for a stadium that tax payers pay for."

This may seem insignificant to some but to me its not about the money.
This is a sure sign of the breadth and width of this give away to Mandalanta.

I could make a case for the $2.9M in furniture but naming rights?
We pay for it
We give them a pass on property taxes
We let them keep all in house revenues
They play in our building

We should name it - for free but there's more;
nss CHAP 8 PG 96
Minor league ballparks provide numerous opportunities to generate advertising and sponsorship revenue.   
Revenues can be generated from scoreboard signage, outfield fence signage, concourse and seating bowl signage, electronic messages, in‐game promotions, media guide and pocket schedule advertisements, public address system announcements and other opportunities.   
In a new ballpark, it is estimated that the minor league baseball team could generate approximately $1.4 million in annual advertising/sponsorship revenue.  After fulfillment costs of approximately 10 percent per year, net advertising/sponsorship revenue is estimated to total approximately $1.3 million in year one, increasing three percent annually thereafter."

If you go to the city and say I want to hang my business signs on YOUR city owned busses how much will it cost? They would say X amount of dollars!
Ever look at a city owned water tower? Notice the wireless company antenna's on them? The city collects a BIG fee for letting them rent space on water towers. Thats city property they are RENTING.
In the stadium those are OUR walls, OUR scoreboard, OUR concourse.
Why does Mandalay get the advertising revenues from that?

So Rick? $1.3M in year 1 times 20 years = $26M just in estimated advertising revenues alone (without any increases)
Wanna re-calculate again?


That was then, this is now.

Mr. Vog:

You have my undying respect for the insight, research, time and effort you have put in to unmasking the stadium fraud. (Along with Mr. Wilson and many others who have called the hucksters out.) I proudly have a vote no sign in my yard, and can't wait to see this bond referendum go down in flames.

A minor correction, though - if you are talking about wireless cell antennas on the water towers in the city of Wilmington, those are now CFPUA property. The fees earned defray the costs CFPUA customers would otherwise have to pay. CFPUA revenue only comes from its customers, not taxpayers. They pay for everything. No customers, no CFPUA. The bait and switch was a COW/NHC know, pay us the money and we will build a convention center, not maintain our vital infrastructure.

My hero

Thank you for pointing out this rather obvious error.
And thanks for the kind words.
Vote "NO" and I'll see YOU opening day 2014/2015 in our FREE stadium near that glorious war memorial the Battleship !
We'll watch the Wilmington "Battling Battleship" Braves (Otherwise known as the BB-55's) as they play host to our first home minor league game with our beautiful city serving as a back drop.



Thanks for building the stadium. As a resident of Pender County I may come to Wilmington to watch a ballgame.


don't forget Cal Ripken, himself, will come down to throw out the first pitch.

I continue to be amazed at the Sounds of Silence. Since their mocking posts about a high dollar advertising campaign, there's been nothing to speak of.

I was re-reading a couple of posts. And someone hit the mark. Mandalanta may actually avoid the $10 million in rent payments over 20 years. Consider the naming rights, furniture purchase, office rent payments, and probably a gaggle of hidden adjustments, the city may actually have to write a check to Mandalanta if this tax referendum passes and the White Albatross is built.

Math is not your strong suit is it

Go ahead Terry do the math
The stadium plus interest will cost $54M acccording to Saffo not $37M.
The 2.5 cent increase raises $65M to $75M over 20 yers
Mandalanta pays $10M

The "cheap ad" as you call it is totally accurate and truthful
Something you are totally unfamiliar with.


I'm Sorry Facts Scare You

Everything in the ad is the truth. It isn't $37 million, it's 6% of the taxpayers' property value for 30 years. Since the amount is tied to property values, it's guaranteed to go up over time.
There is no 20 year guarantee from the Braves. That isn't in the agreement anywhere.

It sounds as though these ad are making you nervous. I guess the "Vote Yes for More Taxes" folks just don't like for the voters to hear facts.

re: No Tax Commercial

"Vote Yes."

No thank you. I'm voting "NO"

The "facts" you present represent only part of the story. Do the math Mr. T...$37 Million turns into $70 Million with interest.


you misstate the facts. The referendum calls for bonds totaling $37 million. To be paid back over 20 years. Throw in the interest charges as a portion of the debt service.

And if you are going to talk about the $500,000 annual payment from Mandalanta, did you consider the deductions they make before writing a check? YOu know, the ones which will reduce their annual payment to around $360,000.

Terry, these posts are not going to get you a job in Banking.

The other proponents have been intelligent enough to remain silent. I guess that was beyond your abilities.

Every time you post, and that is every time, you put one of your infamous false statements out as though you possess the Holy Grail.

You Sir, do more harm to the hopes of the taxpayer funded ballpark. Keep up the good work; you're making defeat of the referendum that much easier.