Wilmington leaders want baseball project on November ballot
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WILMINGTON -- City council members said Tuesday that they want to see a bond referendum regarding the possible construction of a minor league baseball stadium in Wilmington on the November ballots.
Council members made several decisions concerning the future of a proposed stadium, starting with an approval of appropriating $355,000 to continue the feasibility study. Members also voted to extend talks with Mandalay and the Braves for the next six months.
"I think it is a testament to their dedication to trying to make this happen in Wilmington. I think we should definitely take them up on it and do the best we can," said council member Kevin O'Grady.
A majority of the discussion came during a presentation by the consulting firm National Sports Services. The firm suggests the city would pay a total of $25 million over a 20 year period, close to 60 percent of the estimated $42 million cost to build the stadium.
Mandalay would contribute $16 million a year, with the remaining $7 million to be paid by contributing partners.
Some council members questioned the firm's information, saying it was a major league field for a minor league team.
"It's a very fine balancing act, and finding that right program is going to be critical,” said Brian Parker, with National Sports Services. “If you proceed with this, and you're working with a leading architecture firm, whoever that may be, they will have a lot of information to help you with that."
National Sports Services says, overall, baseball could be successful in Wilmington.
The council proceeded to tell staff to start preparing to put the issue on the November ballot.
"That would mean we would have to have everything finalized by August 1 to make that happen,” Mayor Bill Saffo said. “We would be in intense negotiations with Mandalay and the Braves and whoever else we are going to try to attain funding from on this particular project.”
Flywheel Trask, a private development group, announced it would no longer participate in discussions regarding the stadium, but it did not release a reason why.