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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The New Hanover County Board of Elections says it has verified enough signatures on a petition against a tax-funded baseball stadium in Wilmington.

Elections Director Marvin McFayden said late this afternoon, his office verified 74 signatures today. That brings the total to 2,848.

The results are in. There are now enough signatures on the petition against a tax-funded ballpark to take the next step.

It will now go to Wilmington City Council, which must either adopt it or put it up for a public vote.

“I can’t speak for council as a whole, but I don’t think that anyone thought that they wouldn’t come up with the number,” says City Councilman Neil Anderson.

Organizers submitted about 4,000 petition signatures to the board of elections last month, which was about 1,200 more than required. However, twice the board found there weren’t enough verified signatures. Finally on Tuesday, the petition was complete.

“Our victory is in it going into a public vote, not the outcome of the vote,” said Ben McCoy, one of the petition organizers. “Our victory is in getting it on the ballot.”

“The jury is out for us until we know exactly what we’re going to vote to adopt or to put on the ballot,” Anderson says.

McCoy guesses if left up to voters the ordinance would be a home run.

“It will be an eight to one vote in favor of our ordinance is my prediction,” he says.

Anderson says if they decide to put the ordinance to public vote, the city could possibly put a bond referendum on the ballot that would be an alternative to voters.

WWAY tried contacting Mayor Bill Saffo, but were not able to reach him for comment. Councilman Kevin O’Grady says he believes council will put the ordinance to a public vote and was confident citizens will vote against it because of its ambiguous language.


Comment on this Story

  • Guest111

    Correct me if I’m wrong but the BRAVES aren’t the team that would have come here.

  • Guest111

    . . . . don’t buy any hotdogs just yet. . nor any new hats.

  • Guest?

    Vog, I think even if the athletes don’t get paid (I don’t know if they do or if they don’t) they still have a manager and an owner. They also still pay to rent the field, but not at the full rate. City Council has to approve the contract every year for Sharks, Tigers and Hammerheads, if I’m not mistaken.

    Because they are being partly subsidized by the city, that’s why people are saying their contracts will be in jeopardy if this passes in November. I don’t know if the teams will have the funds to pay for the full rate or not.

  • 1981duke

    Per COUNTY AND CITY agrement signed 1n 1996 for 20 years,Legion Stadium.
    No impact on High School sports,

    fUTURES,COSTS under scrutiny

  • Vog46

    Guest 2020.
    Correct me if I’m wrong here.
    New Hanover High school teams would not be affected as they are NOT professional sports teams.
    I believe the Wilmington Sharks are a collegiate summer baseball league and are also not considered professional. (This is vague to me as some teams appear to be paid???)
    The only team this may affect is the Hammerheads but this situation may be grandfathered as their agreement for stadium use is already in place.

    Best Regards

  • another chuck

    Baseball is NOT the important issue. The important issue and the reason there even IS a petition is: the people who are currently holding office are blatantly disregarding what is best for the city and the people that inhabit it in lieu of their own interests or biases. Let me rephrase that to say “most” because the “other” elected officials are obviously lacking intelligence or foresight if they assume this venture will not harm the average taxpayer even if only slightly. The fanatical segments of the population are those who actually support this venture at this time.

    I can think of many diverse things that could help and enrich this community but a taxpayer funded baseball stadium is not one that is needed at this time. I might not be so opposed if the economic outlook was quite different but it does not look good regardless of political persuasion.

    Political hijacking is what has been done by proponents of this stadium. And a special note for MrT: Keeping idiots in check is what democracy is all about!

  • 1981duke

    Yes,40-42 million pays stadium costs

  • Vog46

    The Sharks are amateur, unpaid athletes. The company that runs the team is a professional sports organization.
    I don’t believe they would be affected.

    Concert and other events would go to the convention center which I believe would have first choice on local events of this nature (Goolsby may propose state legislation to force this issue on behalf of the Wilmington Home builders association – this is another story altogether.)

    This petition seems innocuous and don’t forget that this probably could be changed in the future. Don’t forget Hammerhead supporters can also get a petition going to allow for an exemption for the Hammerheads if need be.
    However like any other citizen driven ordinance it has not been challenged legally and you cannot expect the citizenry to know the letter of the law as it applies to ordinances.

    The convention center is still in its infancy and can’t be called a success yet. It was and is paid for using room tax on hotels which was approved by the STATE legislature. This does not affect Wilmington taxpayers for the bulk of the cost. In other words the Wilmington taxpayer risk was limited. The stadium is different. It appears to be single purpose and funded by local taxpayer dollars for the majority of the cost……….
    Getting it approved by the voters is probably prudent. It’s also politically expedient as it allows for Saffo and company to go with the flow…….

    Best Regards

  • Guest6448949

    perhaps you don’t understand the time value of money?

    Even more simply, when you borrow $100K for your house for your mortgage you actually end up paying around $300-$400K over 30 years depending on your interest rate. Also add into that the value of that money at today’s value vs. what that money is worth 30 years from now and the actual “cost” grows even greater.

    Just because it’s the baseball field is something you want doesn’t make the laws of finance suddenly not apply.

  • MrT

    The next few days and weeks will surely be interesting for the Wilmington Council and Mayor. Placing the recent petition on the November ballot puts in jeopardy the integrity and ability to govern by this council and others to follow. Councilors and Mayors in all cities assume their election is a mandate from the voters to govern and manage their city with their best effort and without the hindrance of fanatical segments of the general population. This issue goes far beyond just the current issue of Baseball. This Council and Mayor must consider rejection of the petition in what ever manor possible. Some claim this petition as democracy however this is nothing more than political hijacking and will effect the quality of those willing to serve in the future. I would guess even those who organized the current petition would not want to serve on a council that could be hobbled by every special interest who for whatever reason is dissatisfied with an important issue facing the city. Chaos is never the answer!

  • 1981duke

    will need more the 3,000 against,more like 30,000….

  • Guest2020

    I have been against a taxpayer funded stadium from the beginning. I do believe that this referendum is likely to fail because of the language in it. The language reads as if all funding to all multi-use facilities where professional sports teams play will be ceased. My concern is for the future of Legion Stadium since it is used for professional sports. If that happened, where would New Hanover High School play its home football games?

  • 1981duke

    far reach,join the progressive side,not regressive side…

  • 1981duke

    Great to see the dialog,can not wait till the November actual Vote so we can begin play in 2014!
    Extra innings for Stadium and Baseball,so the next 4 months will see fan interests peak

  • #1 Braves Fan

    People, we have the opportunity to have the Braves here in Wilmington! Gotta get this done, taxes or no taxes. It’s the great American Pastime in our Great American City. Can you feel it?
    Tell Goober and his peas to crawl back in their hole and lets bring real baseball to Wilmington!

  • Guest111

    It comes from change orders and such as that. It’s very expensive and it ALWAYS happens. Once the hook (we the taxpayers) is caught the pull (need more money for this and that) gets tougher.

  • Guest?

    The convention center finished way under budget because it was built when companies were fighting to get work and material costs were low. Plus taxpayers didn’t pay for the construction of the convention center.

  • Guest7969

    STOP saying the BRAVES…the Braves are NOT coming here and they sure as heck aren’t playing here….a pop warner team is…LET THEM foot the bill if they want to be here! The only reason they use the Braves name is to try to sell you something that isn’t true…

  • Guest?

    8 to 1? I thought the petition – after a couple of attempts – only represented 25% of the few residents who voted in the last election.

  • Vog46

    “I can’t speak for council as a whole, but I don’t think that anyone thought that they wouldn’t come up with the number,” says City Councilman Neil Anderson.

    This is disturbing me for some odd reason. It would appear as though council knew how contentious this issue would be so why didn’t THEY propose the special election? Why did they rely on a couple of citizens to do it?

    “It will be an eight to one vote in favor of our ordinance is my prediction,” he says.
    I agree that this is being just plain silly, but considering the speed at which they gathered their signatures I do understand their confidence. That was 25% of the total vote in the city during the last election.

    Councilman Kevin O’Grady says he believes council will put the ordinance to a public vote and was confident citizens will vote against it because of its ambiguous language.
    They will lose due to ambiguous language? This is as laughable as McCoy’s vote prediction. O’Grady, for some reason, is getting more press on this issue than even Saffo. Saffo’s comment about the Braves not having enough skin in the game seems to be a reasonable statement, and indicates that there’s at least one adult in the room.

    If put forth for vote I believe it will be passed and no stadium will be built.
    Just not by 8 to 1………..

    Best Regards

  • Guest Reply

    I can just see it now…people trying to get to this stadium on roads full of pot holes, dodging red light runners (or red light runners dodging baseball fans) and then to top it all off…the day of the “BIG GAME”…the Cape Fear bridge gets stuck!!
    If our council spent as much effort trying to work with the state of North Carolina for road improvements/repairs, and giving our Police Dept. funds it needs to improve their reliability and efficiency, then there would be signs of improvement in this city. Actually…the tax payers would be Shocked if that happened. Then maybe the tax payers would agree to some tax funding for recreational means.
    Naw! Not in Wilmington :-(

  • taxpayer

    interest on the debt for starters.

  • taxpayer

    “Councilman Kevin O’Grady says he believes council will put the ordinance to a public vote and was confident citizens will vote against it because of its ambiguous language.”

    >We’ll see when the votes are tallied Kevin. I’m betting you thought the City would win the annexation fight as well.

  • 1981duke

    how does 40 million become 100-200 million?
    Talk about a scare tactic?

  • Guest11111

    “8 to 1” REALLY MCCOY?!!?!?!?!

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA you live a bubble and in the bubble are paint fumes.

  • frontpaige

    The land and building estimate is $40 million for the baseball stadium and like our Wilmington convention center a cost over run is likely.
    Finance over 30 years could triple the cost to close to $100 million. The costs of necessary infrastructure, parking, safety concerns, and roads have NOT been estimated. The city taxpayer will be responsible for the yearly operational and maintenance shortfalls, which are expected in the industry.

    The majority of residents would pay for this facility and never use it. Worse yet, it will take finite leisure/sports dollars from exciting area businesses. IF money is made, it will likely go to the ball players, ball owners, sports organization owners, who spend it elsewhere. (Of course the builder and land owner will walk away with a one time, early on sizable profit.)

    Who wins this game, and who loses?
    The taxpaying public SHOULD decide this one!

  • GuestJeffB129

    This will save me alot of money on Wilmington Hammerheads and Wilmington Sharks ticket in the upcoming years!! Or if they can afford to pay full price for Legion stadium it will be a money maker for the city! WIN/WIN for everyone.

  • Reiber

    I am against the property tax funding for the stadium. How come we cannot add to the sales tax to pay for the stadium? That way everyone that used the stadium would participate in the financing of the staduium tourists and locals alike. Mecklenberg County adds extra to their county portion of sales tax over what most other county charges, I think we should to. Also using sales tax would incorporate a large part of Wilmington’s economy, the college students that rent and do not pay property taxes.

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