At 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.
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.
RELATED STORIES: Poll: Wilmington voters oppose ballpark funding plan; Sweetening the pot in Wilmington; Lease officially approved in Wilmington; Mandalay, Wilmington, Braves agree to ballpark lease; Second ballpark site emerges in Wilmington; Nasty ballpark fight emerging in Wilmington; No lease, but ballpark funding will go before voters; Wilmington, Mandalay delay ballpark decision; Outline of Wilmington ballpark deal emerges: $37M, 5,500 seats; Negotiations fail to yield agreement on Wilmington ballpark; Wilmington ballpark to go before voters this fall; New Wilmington ballpark: uncertainty reigns; Wilmington officials: Proposed ballpark lease won’t happen; Wilmington to ask voters to approve new-ballpark bonding; NSS: New ballpark would generate $172 million in new spending; Third time’s the charm: petition opposing Wilmington ballpark funding succeeds; More signatures tossed in Wilmington anti-ballpark petition drive;Opponents of Wilmington ballpark fail in petition drive; No ballpark money in upcoming Wilmington budget; “Free” land not so free in Wilmington; Referendum on horizon for new Wilmington ballpark; Wilmington ballpark sites down to three; poll indicates support; Mayor slams Wilmington ballpark financing proposal; Preferred site emerging for Wilmington ballpark?; Mandalay, Braves to update Wilmington on ballpark; Five potential ballpark sites under discussion in Wilmington; The race is on: NSS given marching orders in Wilmington; Wilmington bypasses Ripken Design as ballpark project manager; NSS is hired; Ripken Design chosen to oversee Wilmington ballpark planning; controversy ensues; Mandalay, Braves to pursue private financing for new Wilmington ballpark; Business leaders to push for new Wilmington ballpark; What should Wilmington expect for new-ballpark attendance?; Poll: Wilmington residents overwhelmingly oppose public financing of new ballpark; Proposed Wilmington lease: Mandalay would pay 12 percent of debt service; Atlanta Braves have tentative deal to buy Lynchburg Hillcats; New Wilmington ballpark would be part of hotel, marina complex; Wilmington to move forward with ballpark talks; Wilmington to discuss new Braves ballpark tomorrow night; Wilmington looks at development deal with Mandalay, Braves; Wilmington ballpark dead on arrival?; Another new effort for Wilmington minor-league baseball?
Share your news with the baseball community. Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you a subscriber to the weekly Ballpark Digest newsletter? You can sign up for a free subscription at the Newsletter Signup Page.