Groups differ on ballpark funding plan

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — While there’s a lot of support from the business community for a taxpayer-funded baseball stadium in Wilmington, it is not unanimous support.

The Privately Funded Baseball Alliance, started by a local business owner, announced its arrival on the steps of City Hall today. In attendance were other established groups who are for and against a publicly-funded ballpark.

The message of the newest group against a tax-payer funded ballpark is simple.

“No taxpayer dollars on a baseball stadium in Wilmington,” Scott Harry said. “Not in this economy. Not now.”

The Privately Funded Baseball Alliance, started by business owner Harry, is gathering signatures to take its fight to City Council. But it was not the only group on hand for Monday’s announcement.

“I’m a taxpayer, too,” Port City Baseball’s Chuck Kuebler said. “I don’t think anybody wants to see an increase in taxes. It’s easy to say that, but there are times when you have actually taken the tax money desired as an investment purpose and used a stadium, in this case, a minor league baseball team, to really jump start the economy.”

Port City Baseball says it wants to play ball no matter who funds the stadium. The newly founded alliance says that’s exactly what it opposes.

“Back up from the economics,” Harry said. “Whether it’s going to work or not, whether it’s going to benefit the city or not, the bottom line is it’s neither fair nor right to take money, hard-earned money, from citizens of this town and give it to somebody else.”

The alliance is not the only group against a taxpayer-funded stadium. Ben McCoy and his group say they are nearly ready to take his thousands of petitions before Wilmington City Council.

“We support the true definition of economic development,” McCoy said. “We welcome private investors to come in, put their money together however they want to work it out, 100 percent privately, and build a stadium.”

A stadium some say is a field of dreams, but others say is a potential swing and a miss for the city.

McCoy says he has 2,500 of 2,900 signatures he needs to force city council to consider his group’s effort to block public funding of the stadium.

Mandalay Baseball Properties is expected to submit its proposal to Wilmington City Council tomorrow night.

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