Chamber of commerce talks future of baseball in Wilmington

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Is it past time for the national pastime in the Port City? Tuesday night, voters overwhelmingly said no to building a baseball stadium in Wilmington.

Since the city first pitched building a ballpark in the Port City, the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce has been behind the scenes. Wednesday night, WWAY spoke with the president to find out what’s next.

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“Sad. I mean we had an opportunity with great partners, probably the best partnerships we could’ve had for downtown and we lost it,” says Connie Majure-Rhett, chamber president and CEO. “We don’t have lots of big industry. We don’t have lots of huge employers, so we have to take every opportunity we can, every enhancement we can to make this community viable.”

For months the chamber has helped fund and build support for the ballpark referendum, most of it out of the spotlight. Tuesday, about 70 percent of Wilmington voters decided against building a $37 million downtown baseball stadium.

Majure-Rhett says though the future doesn’t look bright for baseball in Wilmington, there have been glimmers of hope.

“I guess if a great opportunity comes up that we don’t know about,” she says. “We hear rumors of private investors, but nobody ever steps forward and says I’m the private investor. We just rumor about private investors, so we’ll see.”

Mayor Bill Saffo, a huge proponent of the ballpark, says the game is over and the people have spoken.

“Baseball is done here in Wilmington, for the time being and who knows if it would ever come back,” Saffo says. “It was a healthy debate for the community and the people have spoken. It’s done.”