If voters approve a new ballpark in Wilmington, N.C., for a Braves farm team, Atlanta officials say they’ll keep a team there for 20 years and manage the ballpark should Mandalay Baseball Properties go under.
Mike Plant, Atlanta’s executive vice president for business operations, laid out the commitments in an interview for the Wilmington StarNews. He wanted to reassure area voters that any commitment for a new ballpark would be met with an equally robust commitment from the Braves. Promising a Braves affiliate for 20 years is something the team usually doesn’t do, and promising to manage the ballpark if Mandalay should bow out goes a step beyond as well.
“We have some pretty high-level skin in this game,” he said.
His comments were meant to mollify voters upset with the prospect of a property-tax hike devoted to the $37-million project ($31 million for the ballpark, $6 million for the land). By formally committing to staying in the city while there’s debt on the ballpark (something, by the way, that MiLB adheres to as well), Plant and Mandalay officials sought to reassure voters that their investment would not be for naught. The rent of $500,000, by the way, would be amongst the highest in Class A ball.
Now, whether this is enough remains to be seen; we’ve heard about some polling on both sides indicating that the bonding referendum, if held today, would not pass.
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