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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The idea of building a baseball stadium here in Wilmington is not a homerun for everyone. Many people are opposed to the idea of using taxpayer money to fund it. Saturday, folks rallied together to protest and petition it, but just down the street, others played ball in support.

“I’m sick and tired of my tax dollars going for something that does not benefit the average citizen,” protester Marlene Besecker said. “We are never thought of except when they want a new toy.”

Besecker was one of dozens of Wilmington residents who came out to say no to a tax-funded baseball stadium. She said it’s time the citizens get some control.

“I have grandchildren here, and I’m worried about their future,” protester Mary McLaughlin agreed. “I’d like for the city to be more careful with the money. We can’t afford the new higher taxes.”

McLaughlin and other opponents agree the stadium would be great if it was privately built and maintained.

Just down the street, another group gathered on the opposite side of the plate.

“I wouldn’t mind my taxes going up, no ma’am,” supporter Bryan Abrams said.

Abrams believes the investment would be well worth the millions of revenue the stadium would potentially bring to Wilmington.

Leader of the opposition Joshua Fulton feels our money would be better spent on law enforcement, fire rescue and road improvements, not minor league baseball.

“They fail all over the country,” Fulton said. “That $42 million is going to cost $393 per person in Wilmington. That includes kids, and kids clearly don’t pay taxes, so it’s going to cost the average taxpayer a whole lot more.”

“I’m for any way of getting it done, to be quite frank,” Abrams said. “I’d like to have city council have their own time to come up with some great ideas, whether taxes be going up for it or it be privatized or Mandalay or Atlanta contributes. I’m just honestly looking forward to hearing what they come up with in these six months to come to the table.”

New Hanover County Commissioner Rick Catlin was not among those playing softball on one of the proposed sites. He said the stadium should not be considered an economic development but rather an amenity that should not be paid for by taxpayers.

State Rep. Carolyn Justice (R-16) and New Hanover County Commission Chair Ted Davis also sent statements expressing their opposition.

Wilmington residents not only signed the petition against increasing taxes to pay for the proposed ballpark but also two others: one called for fiscal transparency from city council, and the other proposed that all projects over $15 million must be voted on by taxpayers. The group has 100 days to get nearly 3,000 signatures on each before they ask city council to create the ordinances.

For information about supporting the stadium, visit www.portcitybaseball.com.
For information about protests and petitions, visit www.facebook.com/nostadium.


Comment on this Story

  • Guest676

    Wilmington and the Cape Fear region have a lot to offer for the weekender, vacationer and locals. We have attraction to the beaches, rivers, golf, NC battleship, riverfront, parades, festivals, celebrities, fireworks, music cookouts, museums and arts, gardens, and more shopping than you can do in a life time. Come on down….…
    We also have New Hanover County Sheriff, Wilmington Police, Wrightsville Beach Police, South Port Police, Carolina Beach Police, Kure Beach Police, NC Wildlife, NC Hwy Patrol, Coast Guard, Helicopter, Radar, Cameras, Sub Marine devices, an Army of Parking Meter People, Tow Trucks, Citizen Volunteers watching your every move, We also have Tons of Permits, so you can do anything you want here: We’ve got one for freshwater fishing, we’ve got one for saltwater fishing, we have one if you want to sit at a picnic table in the park, and we have one if you want to drive on the beach and Fines for pulling a Neighbor out of the Sand. We have one if you want to go boating, we have one if you want to go camping, and, if you want to invite a few friends, we have one so you can have a party. And, introducing our latest service – the county can take your car and sell it at auction, so I wouldn’t recommend driving anything you want to go back home in. The trap is set. We are waiting in ambush for you.
    We love your money, and we don’t care how we get it. As long as you come back. With a smile.

  • Responsible Government


    I am afraid that you have lost your way. The point is that our local government (both city of Wilmington and New Hanover County) does not and has not had their priorities straight for many years. If they kept up with their responsibility to maintain infrastructure our sewers would not have gotten in the shape that they are in today.

    As I said before, a baseball stadium would be fine if everything else was in order. It is not but our irresponsible local government still feels that they can just raise our taxes for their pet projects.

    You ask “What would you have done differently?”. Simple, focus on the important stuff first and worry about baseball stadiums, convention centers, etc second.

  • Guest461

    …you would have private investers beating our doors down to be a part of it. Your “vision” is imaginary, blown out of proportion and will burden taxpayers with another failure for the rest of their lives. Do you really believe that because you can architecturally render a bunch of pretty settings of a ballpark, a new marina all with “prosperity” for the people of the city that it will magically become real?

    You seem to be a big thinker with visions of sugerplums…WAKE UP!!! There simply isn’t enough interest in pro or semi-pro baseball in this area. Local diamonds remain empty ALL season. No players, no spectators…no interest. Who are you going to sell your 5 dollar hot dogs to? Another marina? Let me restate that…another EMPTY marina? Why would you want that? Do you have an inkling of a clue as to the health (or lack thereof) of the boat business? What used to be half-million dollar yachts are going fro 100k these days…nobody wants the expense of ownership AND skyrocketing fuel costs. Here’s another tid-bit for you to add to your dream bag. Downtown is almost 20 miles from the ICW, a far piece off the beaten path. There are already a ton of slips that never get used downtown as it is, except for one or maybe two times a year. The tanin in the river water turns your glistening white fiberglass a puke orange in only a few hours. My boat doesn’t go there…

    I’m all for downtown revialization, it needs it bad! This just appears to be a grasp at hot air that requires a lot of investment, a lot of risk and a huge burden on the taxpayers. But you know what? All of that land that nobody has been able to sell will finally get sold. Who really cares what happens after that? The Taxpayers do…the developers don’t!

  • Responsible Government

    A baseball stadium would be fine if the city and county government had everything else under control. When they are not talking about these pet projects they complain about the lack of funds for police, fire, schools and our sewer system. Rather than fix the sewer system they fail to take any responsibility and create the CFPUA which then significantly raises our rates.

    Part of the problem is that much of our local government is made up of Realtors who use our tax dollars to build their own little playground.

  • It’s a vision thing…..

    The Atlanta Braves in a partnership with Mandalay Entertainment have proposed bringing minor league baseball to Wilmington if the city/county will assist in the construction of a stadium. A developer has put forth plans for a stadium as a centerpiece in a project that includes a marina, hotel and mixed use retail/residential woven into the fabric of the downtown riverfront designed to leverage our existing downtown assets. Until we see the final structure, we won’t know the costs to the public nor all of the revenue sources for repayment…we do know that others have experienced stunning success with similar downtown projects in generating real economic benefits and a centerpiece asset for their city. It’s a vision thing….
    Those most vocal in their opposition have proposed no ideas, no vision…..their objective is simply to prevent Wilmington from making the investments required to achieve the vision. That vision is of a vibrant, family-friendly downtown, with the stadium development leading a revitalized riverfront as a magnet for private investment and redevelopment and simultaneously providing us a material asset in the hugely competitive battleground that is regional economic development and engine for future growth of our city.

    It is a vision thing. They have no vision, no plan of their own to build a thriving and prosperous future for our city. They offer no imminent and viable options, no alternatives, their only offer is NO….NO is not a strategy for building prosperity nor a commitment for a better Wilmington.

    It is a vision thing….those in support have it and this project provides the means to build it. It is available, imminent and very doable. They do not, they do “no”….that is all they have to offer.

    Between the unique and significant assets of our city and the collective strengths of the partnership available to us through this proposal, Wilmington has all the elements necessary for success in this endeavor. I believe it to be potentially a once in a generation opportunity. I’m hopeful that Wilmington can find the courage and leadership to get it done…

  • What?

    You are on the right path, but quickly lose your way:

    “Rather than fix the sewer system they fail to take any responsibility and create the CFPUA which then significantly raises our rates.”

    COW couldn’t/wouldn’t fix the system because of the lack of political will to do what was necessary to fix the system. (NHC, you’re not off the hook.) What was necessary WAS to significantly raise taxes to fix, repair, upgrade. They punted (rather, created CFPUA).

    The city actually DID do something pretty smart…they washed their hands of the problem (part of which was due to out of control county development and undercapacity of the city system to deal with what was coming down the pipe).

    Now, with an EPA consent decree gun at their heads, the CFPUA must raise rates to fix it. It is now their problem, see.

    What part of this rather simple explanation do you not get? If rates were not raised to fix it, where would we be? What would you have done differently, brainiac?

    Now…PLAY BALL! I have the vision.

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