Baseball group "anxious to get going" in Wilmington - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Baseball group "anxious to get going" in Wilmington

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Stop me if you heard this one. 

The city of Wilmington is discussing the possibility of bringing a minor league baseball team and stadium to the Port City.  The fact is this idea has been tossed around for years.

However, WECT.com has learned that talk has picked up in recent months.

A Las Vegas company is eyeing a piece of land along north Front Street, located right next to PPD.  The stadium would have a view of downtown Wilmington and the Cape Fear River.

Mandalay Entertainment already owns seven minor league teams across the country.  Representatives from the company have been in our area for the last couple of months trying to rally support for a stadium.

Some say this latest pitch is the best baseball presentation they've seen.

"This is a 'they're already coming, so we gotta build them a place to live'," said New Hanover County Commissioner Jason Thompson.  "That's how this deal would go down."

WECT.com uncovered an email question from Wilmington City Council member Kristi Campos to Commissioner Thompson about how the city and county could work together to secure a way to make the stadium a reality.

"They're the real deal," Wilmington City Council Member Kevin O'Grady said.  "They could, they could, they could do this."

O'Grady says a waterfront ballpark would attract people from all over.  The closest minor league teams to Wilmington are currently single A squads in Kinston and Myrtle Beach.

"It would be a great attraction to bring us more tourists," O'Grady said.  "It would be a great attraction to bring us more private investment."

But in this economy, a stadium won't come cheap.

"The economic realities are, the stadium in itself would probably not generate enough money to pay the cost of building of the stadium," O'Grady said.

And that's where taxpayers come in.

"This would be something where the public would have to reach into their wallet, someway, in order to pay for it," O'Grady said. 

Commissioner Thompson says there's no chance of raising taxes, so the county has to generate new areas of property tax, like where the park would be located.

"We want that 30 acres of county land inside the city of Wilmington to become developed and produce tax base, versus sitting there empty," Thompson said.

"The baseball group is anxious to get going. Their hope would be the stadium would be built in the next year and they would be playing baseball the year after that," O'Grady said.

But before a first pitch is thrown, O'Grady says it's up to the public to set the ground rules.

"The people of this county are going to have to decide if they want to have a stadium, because in the end, it's going to cost them something," O'Grady said.

All of these talks remain informal.  There have been no formal proposals or group discussions to this point.

Copyright 2011 WECT.  All rights reserved.

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