With construction work halted and subcontractors complaining of unpaid bills, the new Winston-Salem Dash ballpark is unlikely to open this season, as team owners Billy Prim and Andrew "Flip" Filipowski continue to untangle their business relationship.
With construction work halted and subcontractors complaining of unpaid bills, the new Winston-Salem Dash (High Class A; Carolina League) ballpark is unlikely to open this season, as team owners Billy Prim and Andrew "Flip" Filipowski continue to untangle their business relationship.
We’ve been warning of this possibility for several weeks, as we’ve heard in baseball circles about Carolina League owners being warned of the chance the team would play at Ernie Shore Field all year. The downtown Winston-Salem ballpark was slated to open this season, but the team announced in the offseason it would begin the 2009 campaign at Ernie Shore Field, the team’s former home. The reason given at that time: design changes in the ballpark design caused unavoidable delays.
And while there was a bit of truth in that — in the offseason Prim and Filipowski brought in Mandalay Baseball Properties to manage the franchise, and Mandalay did indeed point out necessarily changes to the ballpark design — the bigger truth is now emerging: Prim and Filipowski did not have the money to complete the facility, pending their business divorce.
Basically, Prim and brother-in-law Filipowski have been neogtiating a buyout of Filipowski’s interest in the team. But those negotiations have been engulfed by other financial issues facing Filipowski: his software-development firm has been forced to lay off employees, and he’s being sued for nonpayment of a loan issued by JP Morgan.
The team is also having problems paying its bills: one subcontractor has filed a lien against the property, and other complain about late payments.
Add to that a $12 million loan issued by the city toward construction of the new $38-million facility. That loan is supposed to be repaid with 2009 revenues generated by the new ballpark, but if the team’s not playing there, no money needs to be repaid — which means at some point Winston-Salem must come up with $350,000 to cover debt service.
And, to add insult to injury, the team is probably bleeding cash on an operational basis at Ernie Shore Field. The Dash do not have a liquor license for Ernie Shore Field, and the team is struggling to attract crowds there.
All in all, it’s a messy situation — and we’re guessing there are many in baseball not happy about it.
RELATED STORIES: Dash to play at Ernie Shore Field through June 17 — at least; Dash announces new mascot; still working on new ballpark; Prim seeks $6 million in outside financing to complete ballpark; Will new Winston-Salem ballpark open on time?; Prim sought additional city financing for new W-S ballpark; More details released on Winston-Salem ballpark upgrades; Prim: New Winston-Salem ballpark may not open in April; New for 2009: The Winston-Salem Dash; New Winston-Salem ballpark opening may be delayed
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