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WILMINGTON,NC (WWAY) — The City continues to slide closer to building a ballpark and bringing a minor league team to the Port City. Wilmington City Council voted Tuesday night to continue negotiations with Mandalay Baseball and the Atlanta braves for another six months.

Council members also discussed putting a ballpark bond referendum on the November ballot. However, with the new information from their consultant, National Sports Services, it still leaves the question: is this a good idea for Wilmington?

“I think baseball can be successful in Wilmington,” said Brian Parker, who gave the presentation for NSS. “I can’t say that it’s the right investment for Wilmington.”

NSS brought its proposal to council, estimating a cost of $36 million to $42 million to build a baseball stadium in the Port City.

According to the StarNews, the private development team, Flywheel/Trask, that had proposed being a partner in the stadium project backed out last week.

Afterwards, the city decided to consider putting the ballpark plan to a public vote in November, asking voters if they would help pay for the stadium. Council would vote on it during a later meeting.

In a press release response, Mandalay Baseball announced that private financing is now off the table.

“We now feel that since this issue is going to a referendum it creates too much uncertainty for private investment teams. Also, private financing costs were a bit too high when compared to the rates the city could get for municipal bonds, making private financing too big a challenge,” said Rich Neumann, President of Baseball Development for Mandalay Baseball.

The economic impact of the stadium is estimated to create about 300 jobs per year in the city and county, but definite details are a long way from being complete.

“This is a starting point,” Parker said. “By no means would this necessarily be the ending point. If it is, it would be shocking if this is exactly how it broke down.”

If council approves the bond referendum it would go on the November ballot alongside the controversial ordinance against a tax-payer funded ballpark.

Council also voted 6-1 approving $355,000 for further feasibility study, outside legal council and financial advice. Councilwoman Laura Padgett voted against the funding.

In their hypothetical funding scenario, National’s report had the city contributing around $17 million and “other governmental aid” paying $8.2 million. New Hanover County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield says he and another commissioner have spoken with city leaders several times about re-entering ballpark negotiations, however County Manager Bruce Shell says the county is not actively discussing their involvement.

National’s report has downtown as the prime location for a baseball stadium.


Comment on this Story

  • GuestOrator

    According to the latest, the city will build and own the stadium.
    Part of the “revenue” that the fantasy land NSS report shows is from property taxes collect on the stadium.
    If the city owns the stadium and rents/leases it to the Braves, who exactly are we collecting this property tax from?

  • Vog46

    Calls for the city to build it with the city accepting all costs for construction. The city maintains it and Mandalay kicks in $25K per year for capital improvements. Mandalay gets ALL ticket revenue but the city is allowed NO MORE than a $0.50 per ticket tax. Mandalay pays $400,000 lease with no codicils addressing lease termination. In other words – if it doesn’t work out Atlanta pulls a Baltimore Colts – and leaves in the middle of the night. No warning, no nothing.
    And get this – if the stadium is not finished by march 20, 2012 the city pays THEM all costs associated with playing at another field AND a $50,000 per day fine.
    Thats right folks – $50,000 per day!
    Give them the stadium, give them the tickets revenue, give the the ad revenues, give them the concession revenues, do not force them into a 5 year guarantee AND we pay them if its late being built!!!
    Where are all you supporters of this? Weren’t you there when the lease was released?

    I dislike Ben McCoy and Mr. Fulton. I don’t like their brand of politics. But in THIS case if all of the above are true (and it appears as though they are) then I tip my hat to those two for stopping the city from rushing head long into this travesty of an agreement. I also thank Council woman Padgett for voting against this.
    Shame on the rest of them !!! This is so one sided it’s nauseating, and to think that O’Grady et al wanted to rush into this makes me think that the inmates are running the asylum here.

    Best Regards

  • taxpayer

    he’d make a great auctioneer. In the blink of an eye, he asked for a motion, a second to the motion, and a vote. Before anyone knew it, we taxpayers had just coughed-up another $355,000 for baseball.

    Last night’s presentation was a well choreographed dog & pony show. The only thing missing was Kevin O’taxya Grady and Margaret Haynes dressed in tutu’s doing a dance in front of the crowd.

    What a circus!

  • Guest 101

    Baseball is as boring as watching paint dry. Beyond that this is just another case of corporate welfare funded by the local taxpayers.

    The only way to put a stop to this nonsense is to vote out as many of these “public servents” as possible.

  • Guest11111111111

    Are you all serious..”PRIVATE FINANCING” is off the table, meaning the team of flywheel/trask is no longer involved since the stadium is going to referendum.

    Private money is still involved though.

    In order to put the stadium on the ballot, they’ll have to announce ACTUAL financing details and cost per household.

  • 1981duke

    You are way off,as on each issue City Council is voting 7-0 or 6-1 on this issue.
    Do not make it sound like it is close,it is not.
    This is clearly being studied,the facts are why the vote “for” is almost unaminous.

  • 1981duke

    Attendance all over is up

  • 1981duke

    Would be proud

  • 1981duke

    This is a community changer,so embrace it.
    It will impact present and future generations for many years to come.
    Counting down to April 2014 opening day in the Port City.

  • ranger1

    Something sounds a little fishy if private financing is “off the table.” I have a feeling there’s a little back room under the table politics going on here.

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