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City council votes to pass ballpark agreement with Braves, Mandalay

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Wilmington City Council voted 6-1 Tuesday night to approve the agreement with the Atlanta Braves and Mandalay Baseball to build a baseball stadium in Wilmington. However, the approval did not get passed without a few reservations.

Laura Padgett was the only council member to vote against the agreement. She said that if in November taxpayers approve the deal, she will do everything she can to make sure the ballpark gets built.

In an explanation, Padgett listed her reasons why, which included concerns about mitigation costs on the land purchase and a lack of support for teams who are already here.

"I continue to have a concern that we have two functioning baseball teams, and they are not drawing huge crowds," she said.

Councilman Kevin O'Grady, though a huge proponent and key negotiator for the city, agrees that there are risks.

"We have a real opportunity here," O'Grady said. "It's not without risk, but it has a lot of reward. I mean, we know the risks. There are deal issues. What if the land can't be acquired? What if the debt isn't approved? What if the team isn't available?"

The city's agreement calls for taxpayers to cover the construction costs of $31 million through a 2.5-cent increase in property taxes. The agreement also calls for $6 million to acquire the land where the ballpark will be built, which would be paid back to the city through rent payments from Mandalay and the Braves.

However, in the end, nothing is certain without a final vote in November.

"And now it's up to you," O'Grady said to Wilmington residents. "Tell us whether you want to do it."

Also at Tuesday night’s council meeting, members voted 6-1 in favor of annexing and rezoning a nearly 10-acre plot of land in the 6000 block of Gordon Road to build an 84-unit town home complex.

A public hearing was held before the vote, and the main concern for residents was traffic.

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