Wilmington still can’t reach deal on ballpark plan

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The ballpark and baseball in Wilmington. It is certainly not a short story, and now with no final agreement, City Council cannot vote at its meeting Tuesday.

“It’s a lot of details to work out,” Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said. “We thought we would have it by the 29th. We thought we’d have it by the first meeting of September. But is looks like we will have to have this delayed. One of the commitments we made as a council is that we would investigate this thoroughly. We are going to go through the contract line by line. There are items in there that we agree with, and there are items that we do not agree with.”

This week we learned Ripken Design, which the city once considered to do a feasibility study on baseball in the Port City, talked with county leaders about the possibility of building a ballpark and retail complex along the Cape Fear River. But what about the city?

“I haven’t heard anything from the Ripken group,” Saffo said. “Right now the only group that we have out here is the Braves and Mandalay. That’s the exclusive that we are working with. Mandalay has an exclusive to this area, and to take care of this area, if they want to give up that option and bring in the Ripken group, that would be another discussion for another day. Right now our agreement is with Mandalay and the Braves, and that’s who we are working with.”

The agreement with Mandalay and the Braves, though, gives that group exclusive rights to explore bringing a minor league baseball team to the city. The Ripken discussion with the county was only about developing a ballpark.

The mayor calls the negotiations with Mandalay and the Braves a work in progress, and he believes that the city is moving forward. The vote on an agreement has been moved back to the September 18 council meeting.

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