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Wilmington voters overwhelmingly reject ballpark plan

Carolina LeagueAt the end of the day, it wasn’t close: Wilmington (N.C.) voters overwhelmingly rejected a hike in local property taxes to pay for a new ballpark for a High Class A Carolina League team.

The final margin: 70 percent against, 30 percent for.

Not a surprise: polls from both sides had shown overwhelming opposition to a plan to use a rise in property taxes to pay for a new ballpark for the relocating Lynchburg Hillcats (High Class A; Carolina League), under a plan where the Atlanta Braves would buy the team and Mandalay Baseball Properties would run the ballpark. In the end, a property tax hike of 2.5 cents per $100 of house valuation — or $25 yearly on a $100,000 house — was too much for voters in a noted anti-tax community.

The Braves and Mandalay had this response via press statement: “We would like to thank Mayor Saffo, city council, the city administration, the numerous civic and business leaders and all the volunteers who worked tirelessly on this terrific opportunity for the city of Wilmington.” 

The Braves did not technically buy the Hillcats; we do expect another buyer to step up to purchase the franchise. Kinston, N.C. has been floated by some baseball insiders as being the ultimate destination for the team if this deal fell through.

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