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Wilmington, Mandalay delay ballpark decision

Carolina LeagueUnable to reach a final accord, the city of Wilmington (N.C.) and Mandalay Baseball Properties will put off signing a memorandum of understanding on a new ballpark — but the bond issue will still be on the fall ballot.

The two sides have been negotiating for weeks on the parameters of a ballpark deal. And while the basic outlines of a plan seem to be in place — $31 million for the ballpark, 20-year lease, 5,500 seats — other parts of the plan are still in dispute, as the timing of an opening may be slipping to 2015. 

The city had established a deadline of Aug. 6 to hammer out a deal. However, the city can move ahead with putting a bond issue up for referendum on the fall ballot sans ballpark lease, and that’s apparently what will happen. If the two sides cannot agree on a ballpark lease and voters approve bonding, the city could just decide not to move ahead with construction. Similarly, there’s nothing to tie a new ballpark to this particular plan, and if negotiations break down between Mandalay and Wilmington, the issue could be revived by different parties, we’re told by Wilmington city officials — with MiLB approval, of course.

Meanwhile, the city will negotiate separately a waterfront site for a ballpark, with the acquisition price set at $6 million.

The two sides are working on a proposal for a public funded new facility to be managed by Mandalay and occupied by the relocating Lynchburg Hillcats (High Class A; Carolina League), a team to be owned by the Atlanta Braves.

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