ONLY ON 3: Developer talks about ballpark plan, opposition starts Facebook group

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The City of Wilmington voted last night to officially start talkin’ baseball with the Atlanta Braves and Mandalay Baseball Properties.

The city is not the only one stepping up to the plate when it comes to embracing the construction of a new baseball stadium downtown. Today, the developer met with the Wilmington Area Hospitality Association to discuss his plans, which he says will change the city.

In front of dozens of hotel and tourism professionals, Chuck Schoninger made his pitch for his north downtown development, which includes a baseball stadium.

“With bringing people down here it allows our restaurants to have a better chance at success, our hotels and everything else that we have downtown there available,” Schoninger said.

But Schoninger says the stadium is just one feature of his development. Work is already underway on a marina, and construction of a Hotel Indigo should start soon.

But what if the city or tax payers don’t end up building the stadium? Schoninger admits he does not have a back up plan to financially support the stadium with private funds.

Despite the uncertain future of a baseball stadium, the developer says he’ll continue to build. He says Wilmington has a need for multi-use buildings and a hotel.

Wilmington Downtown Inc.’s John Hinnant also presented alongside Schoninger. Hinnant said the ballpark is an investment that citizens should think about.

“If we as citizens want a thriving, growing, prosperous community, then we, all of us, must have skin in the game,” Hinnant said. “This is an opportunity for us to spur significant economic development.”

Of course, there is also strong opposition to using taxpayer money to build a ballpark. Opponents to the plan have started a Facebook page called Stop Tax-Funded Stadium in Downtown Wilmington.

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