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Wilmington looks at development deal with Braves, Mandalay

Carolina LeagueThe off-again, on-again Wilmington (N.C.) ballpark project is back on, as the city is reviewing a potential memorandum of understanding for a ballpark development with the Atlanta Braves and Mandalay Baseball Properties.

The potential economic deal was announced at a press conference today.

The proposal is for a 6,000-seat, $35-million to $40-million ballpark near the PPD headquarters in Wilmington, according to Mayor Bill Saffo. The city would build and own the ballpark; Mandalay would run it and the Braves would be the tenant. The city would control the facility in the offseason. No word on what would pay for the new facility; in a tweet from a local news organization (WECT), Saffo referenced “possible tax adjustments” as part of the mix, potentially a special sales-tax district created by the county (an idea that’s been floated before). The city will review the proposed MOU in coming days. More from the StarNews.

One issue: exactly who the Braves would bring in. The Braves are the only MLB organization to control virtually its entire MILB system, owning teams at the Triple-A (Gwinnett), Double-A (Mississippi), Low Class A (Rome) and rookie Appy League (Danville) levels. The one level where Atlanta does not own a team: the High Class A level, with Wilmington squarely in the purview of the Carolina League. And no other discussion of a move of two California League teams to the Carolina League has been undertaken in recent months, according to team owners we contacted in each circuit.

RELATED STORIES: Wilmington ballpark dead on arrival?; Another new effort for Wilmington minor-league baseball?


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