The city of Wilmington (N.C.), Mandalay Baseball Properties and the Atlanta Braves agreed on a lease for a proposed waterfront ballpark — if voters agree to fund it via property-tax hike in the November elections.
That’s a big if, of course, and we’re hearing that polling in the field has the referendum going down, but perhaps not by as wide a margin that some assume. Still, with a lease agreement in the pocket of city leaders, voters will have something tangible to decide upon.
“We continue to believe a multi-use facility and an affiliate of the Atlanta Braves will be a tremendous boost to the city of Wilmington,” said Mike Plant, Atlanta Braves executive vice president of business operations, via press release. “As people take time to review this proposal, they will see the value of the Atlanta Braves’ commitment to becoming part of the Wilmington community for decades to come.”
A City Council vote on the proposed lease is set for Tuesday. You can view the proposed lease here.
The terms are pretty close to what’s been reported in recent years. The city will spend $37 million on a ballpark project — $6 million for the land and $31 million for the actual ballpark — with the Braves and Mandalay agreeing to a 20-year lease. There’s no firm deadline — it could open in 2014 or 2015 — and the ballpark will feature 4,500 seats on the main level of the grandstand, another 700 on a suite/club level and 1,000 picnic plaza seats, for a total capacity of at least 6,200. The cost of office space and concessions will be borne by Mandalay and the Braves. The ballpark will be built to meet Class A specs. Mandalay will be in charge of naming rights, annually keeping the first $325,000 of any naming-rights sale and then splitting the rest 50-50 with the city. The management fee paid by Mandalay to use the facility: $500,000 annually, along with all maintenance costs past the proceeds of a capital fund.
One big issue, we’re told, is who would cover any overages on the project. The final agreement calls for whoever asked for the new feature to pay for it.
The Braves have an option to buy the Lynchburg Hillcats (High Class A; Carolina League) in order to move to Wilmington. We’ve already seen the team referenced by all sides as the Wilmington Braves; the contract specified the use of Wilmington in the team name.
RELATED STORIES: Second ballpark site emerges in Wilmington; Nasty ballpark fight emerging in Wilmington; No lease, but ballpark funding will go before voters; Wilmington, Mandalay delay ballpark decision; Outline of Wilmington ballpark deal emerges: $37M, 5,500 seats; Negotiations fail to yield agreement on Wilmington ballpark; Wilmington ballpark to go before voters this fall; New Wilmington ballpark: uncertainty reigns; Wilmington officials: Proposed ballpark lease won’t happen; Wilmington to ask voters to approve new-ballpark bonding; NSS: New ballpark would generate $172 million in new spending; Third time’s the charm: petition opposing Wilmington ballpark funding succeeds; More signatures tossed in Wilmington anti-ballpark petition drive;Opponents of Wilmington ballpark fail in petition drive; No ballpark money in upcoming Wilmington budget; “Free” land not so free in Wilmington; Referendum on horizon for new Wilmington ballpark; Wilmington ballpark sites down to three; poll indicates support; Mayor slams Wilmington ballpark financing proposal; Preferred site emerging for Wilmington ballpark?; Mandalay, Braves to update Wilmington on ballpark; Five potential ballpark sites under discussion in Wilmington; The race is on: NSS given marching orders in Wilmington; Wilmington bypasses Ripken Design as ballpark project manager; NSS is hired; Ripken Design chosen to oversee Wilmington ballpark planning; controversy ensues; Mandalay, Braves to pursue private financing for new Wilmington ballpark; Business leaders to push for new Wilmington ballpark; What should Wilmington expect for new-ballpark attendance?; Poll: Wilmington residents overwhelmingly oppose public financing of new ballpark; Proposed Wilmington lease: Mandalay would pay 12 percent of debt service; Atlanta Braves have tentative deal to buy Lynchburg Hillcats; New Wilmington ballpark would be part of hotel, marina complex; Wilmington to move forward with ballpark talks; Wilmington to discuss new Braves ballpark tomorrow night; Wilmington looks at development deal with Mandalay, Braves; Wilmington ballpark dead on arrival?; Another new effort for Wilmington minor-league baseball?
Share your news with the baseball community. Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you a subscriber to the weekly Ballpark Digest newsletter? You can sign up for a free subscription at the Newsletter Signup Page.