Wilmington considering Ripken Design to manage baseball project


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The city’s effort to bring a baseball stadium to the Port City now includes another big hitter.

Wilmington City Manager Sterling Cheatham proposes the city should hire Ripken Design, founded by Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. and his brother Bill, to manage Wilmington’s baseball project. The proposal also asks for additional funds to hire a project manager.

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“We are asking for them to determine whether we think baseball is good fit for Wilmington or not, you know, overall,” Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said.

Saffo says that’s the main goal when it comes to finding a company to manage the city’s baseball project. Ten companies put in a bid, six fit the city’s requirements, and after a series of interviews, city staff members feel Ripken Design will fit like a glove.

“Our role is going to be to help the city, work with the city to get everybody’s head wrapped around the project and the size and scope of the project before the project moves into its next phases,” Ripken Design Director of Projects Jim Arnold said.

Arnold said their company plans to do an in-depth feasibility study, visit all the proposed sites and determine the overall level of public support. Arnold said Ripken Design will not discourage or encourage; they will simply do a thorough study and present the results.

“We have worked with projects in the past where we’ve looked at projects and changed the scope of the project,” Arnold said. “Not necessarily a no, nothing will work, but what you were planning may not have worked. Here are other options.”

“They’ll have a pretty in-depth evaluation of the process so that when we make a decision from the council that we will have all the information necessary to make a good decision,” Saffo said.

The proposal for Tuesday night’s council meeting also suggests the council approve spending another $55,000 from next year’s fiscal budget on top of the approximately $150,000 it set aside this year to hire a project manager.

If Ripken Design is approved to manage the baseball project, analysis will start in June. Arnold said the Ripken brothers are very involved in all of their projects and will likely make several trips to the Port City.