Two sides draw battle lines over stadium funding

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — As the teams take the field it looks like a grudge match to the finish. Both are playing or campaigning for the attention of voters on the baseball funding issue.

Thursday the “Vote No Stadium Tax” group was up to bat.

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“Even if I was in favor of putting tax money into it, it is just a bad deal,” Jim Rafferty, the group’s treasurer, said.

Wilmington City Council gave the “play ball” sign this week with an agreement with Mandalay Baseball Properties and the Atlanta Braves to build a stadium downtown. The agreement calls for taxpayers to cover the construction costs of $31 million through a 2.5-cent increase in property taxes. It’s something the no tax group strongly opposes.

“Enough is enough. Come back to reality,” urged former Wilmington Mayor Harper Peterson.

Then, there is the other side. The Wilmington Family Entertainment and Baseball Committee says it’s about economic development and a source of civic pride. Of course they have some big league back-up.

“It’s an opportunity for the Atlanta Braves and the City of Wilmington and Mandalay Baseball to come together at this time and build a ballpark,” Braves General Manager Frank Wren told a partisan crowed Wednesday.

The Braves have an obvious interest in helping supporters of the bond referendum.

So who will win? It’s too early to call, but you can be the judge it all comes down to the voting booth in November.