Ballpark public hearing date set, deal still up in the air

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The City of Wilmington continues to inch closer to building a ballpark and bringing a minor league baseball team to the Port City. City leaders held a special meeting Tuesday night to set a public hearing for a bond referendum.

What we do know is that voters will see the bond referendum on the November ballot if a deal can be reached and folks will have a chance to speak their mind about the ballpark August 7. But, most everything else is pretty much unknown.

“There’s a lot of details to be worked out,” Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said. “We’ve come to agreement on some terms, and we want to make sure that their lawyers see it, our lawyers approve of it, so there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

Though there is still so much to be discussed, Mayor Saffo says there is one thing everyone can come to terms with.

“I mean, we’re all in agreement, including the Braves and Mandalay: $42 million will not be the number,” Saffo said of the potential cost of the ballpark. “It would be lower than that.”

Along with Mandalay Baseball and the Atlanta Braves, the city is also in negotiations with property owner Chuck Schoninger for his land along the downtown Wilmington riverfront to build the stadium.

Though progress has been made on a deal, Saffo says with a 20-year contract hanging over their heads, council wants to make sure all questions and concerns are dealt with.

But with an August 7 deadline looming, will there be a stadium in Wilmington?

“I hope so,” Saffo said. “I mean, we’ve worked hard on it, and at the end of the day, it’s the citizens’ decision.”

Also during Tuesday’s special meeting, council voted to approve money to renovate the Water Street parking deck.

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