WILMINGTON – Fans of baseball rallied in Wilmington on Saturday to show their support of bringing an Atlanta Braves minor league team to the city.
"It's exciting because I am from Atlanta and knowing my son will have a chance because we plan on staying here and are excited about the opportunity for the Braves to come here," said Bradley Hewett, who brought his son to the rally.
Former Atlanta Braves players including Otis Nixon, Greg McMichaels, Zane Smith and Jeff Treadway attended the rally sponsored by the Wilmington Ballpark Coalition as an endorsement of the potential project.
“I can't say enough as a guy who grew up here to promote this," Nixon said. "That is why the Braves asked me to come down here to try to endorse it. I am endorsing it."
On Tuesday, city council heard a funding plan from the Braves and Mandalay Baseball that would call for the city to pay about three quarters of the projected $33 million to $35 million cost of the stadium. The council was given petitions from concerned taxpayers on at the meeting, but they will also be receiving written comments from supporters at the rally in the coming weeks.
"We want to be careful when spending money in these economic times, but we have seen in so many cities, including in North Carolina, that the cost is not a heavy burden and the benefits are much greater," Margaret Weller-Stargell, Vice-chair of the Wilmington Ballpark Coalition said.
Hewett says his fingers are crossed that his son will get to see the Braves play ball in his hometown.
"Hopefully the Atlanta Braves and the Wilmington Braves will come here and all the families can enjoy it," he said.