Experts discuss business of sports in Wilmington
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Sports are big business. Bringing that business to Wilmington was the topic of discussion this morning at the Wilmington Journal's Power Breakfast Series. Experts on the panel think the Port City could be a hit in the world of sports.

Wilmington has faced its share of problems keeping sports teams. From the departure of the Hammerheads soccer team and Waves minor league baseball team to the decline in Seahawk Club donations and ticket sales at UNCW, sports have struggled in Wilmington. But experts say it's not because the Port City lacks a loyal fan base.

"We always felt that if we put on a good show people would attend," former Hammerheads owner Bill Rudisill said.

Whether it's on the field or on the court experts say financial success depends on Ws.

"Athletic success, from wins and losses and competing in postseason, that's important when you think about college athletics, because people want to be associated with winners," UNCW Athletics Director Kelly Mehrtens said.

But the future of successful sports in Wilmington could depend on facilities. Panelists say building a complex along the Cape Fear River could help merge business, entertainment and sports, and ultimately develop downtown.

"It's about having a ballpark and a baseball team and a performing arts center and a convention center and all of the development that can go with that," Jim Goodmon, president and CEO of the Durham Bulls minor league baseball team, said.

While Wilmington does not have any minor league teams right now, those in the know say if we build it, they will come.

"I don't have any doubt that a minor league team in a good facility here on the river would be successful," Goodmon said. "And I also think baseball would like to put one here."

Local developers have expressed interest in building a minor league multi-use stadium in downtown. The panelists this morning said all of the other ingredients are in place to make sure sports succeed in Wilmington.

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Some time back there were developers talking about building a ball park across the river. The deal fell through when the I-40 bypass was stopped.

This would been the ideal location. Anyone know what their plans are now?

http://lincolnparkdev.wordpress.com

Wilmington is a small city, and some still call it a town. Can we afford a minor league baseball stadium? For that matter can we afford a minor league baseball team? On top of all our other recent projects, like the Downtown Convention Center, can we please LEAVE THE CITY TAXPAYER OUT OF IT?

The city of Wilmington , with their incompetent leaders , can not even provide the basic infrastructure necessary and minimize the tax burden . So venturing into sports entertainment would be an additional burden on the citizens , who will eventually have to finance the operation of the UNIMPRESSIVE convention center. As for Kelly Mehrtens , she is hardly qualified to comment on successful athletic programs because she has alienated alumni and fans who are not willing to dig in their pockets. The private sector will need to finance the deal 100% if they think there will be a great return on their investment.

Really? After neglecting the streets, wasting money on a convention center that can't get a hotel, trying to spend billions on a Skyway bridge that even DOT folks don't see as necessary, THIS is the next great taxpayer sinkhole? OH, lest we forget the hundreds of millions in debt that CFPUA has on the books as well.
Where's the other side on this story? Where's the critical analysis of taxpayer subsidized failures that have been prolific in NC?? Wilmington can be a great city if it would focus on what it should be doing rather than what it thinks government can do. If there's money to be made building a stadium, folks in the private sector will do it.