Council unanimously agrees to negotiate with Mandalay Baseball - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Council unanimously agrees to negotiate with Mandalay Baseball

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Several folks at the City Council meeting were wearing "If You Build it, They Will Come" t-shirts. (Source: Ashlea Kosikowski) Several folks at the City Council meeting were wearing "If You Build it, They Will Come" t-shirts. (Source: Ashlea Kosikowski)
Baseball supporters sported ball caps at the City Council meeting. (Source: Ashlea Kosikowski) Baseball supporters sported ball caps at the City Council meeting. (Source: Ashlea Kosikowski)
Former Braves Manager Bobby Cox spoke to WECT's John Smist before the City Council meeting. Former Braves Manager Bobby Cox spoke to WECT's John Smist before the City Council meeting.
Bobby Cox spoke to the Wilmington City Council on Tuesday night. (Source: Ashlea Kosikowski) Bobby Cox spoke to the Wilmington City Council on Tuesday night. (Source: Ashlea Kosikowski)

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Representatives from the Atlanta Braves were at Wilmington's City Council meeting Tuesday night where Council members unanimously agreed to enter into talks with Mandalay Baseball.

City council members agreed to a memorandum of understanding to enter into negotiations with Mandalay Baseball Properties, LLC and the Atlanta National League Baseball Club, Inc., though no final decision regarding a stadium will be made until a later date.

Former Atlanta Braves Manager Bobby Cox was among those at the Hilton and he took part in a presentation during the meeting. Cox retired in 2010 after serving 25 years as manager for the Braves. General Manager Frank Wren and Mandalay Baseball CEO Art Matin were also at the meeting.

During Mandalay Baseball's presentation, the following business perspectives were discussed:

--Approximately 1,750 hotel room nights per year will be generated by the visiting team and umpires. This does not include parents, scouts and others who will visit the Cape Fear Region to see a game throughout the season.

--Wilmington players and coaches and visiting teams will spend approximately $300,000 per year on lodging and meals.

--The Wilmington team and ballpark concessionaire will spend approximately $1.5 million per year on supplies, food and beverage purchases, advertising, printing, travel and entertainment with other local businesses.

--Approximately 350,000 baseball fans will come to the new Wilmington ballpark.
The team will have between 25-30 full-time employees and 200-250 part-time seasonal employees.

--The ballpark concessionaire will have approximately five full-time employees and 200 seasonal employees.

Officials want to open the baseball park in April 2014 and would sign a 20-year lease.

The preliminary ballpark development cost would be $42 million, which would create 645 jobs at an annual average salary of $31,815. The total non-recurring economic activity in a one-year period would be $62,725,549 with associating earnings predicted to be $20,520,749.

The estimated annual revenue generated by the ballpark would be $5.9 million. A total of 139 jobs would be created with an average annual salary of $27,938, according to reports. That means that the total recurring economic activity is expected to be approximately $9,828,220.

The discussion comes after Mayor Bill Saffo's announcement that with council's approval, a minor-league baseball stadium will be considered. Saffo said city leaders hope to bring a quality team that would be a major draw for the entire region.

Saffo also indicated that the facility would be upwards of 6,000 seats. Under the proposal, the city would purchase the land at a site to be determined, and Mandalay Baseball would be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the stadium.

According to the current resolution regarding baseball, the agreement would give the city and Mandalay six months to specify the details of the deal, such as cost, location, and teams available to relocate.

There could be another group that is pitching baseball to the city and trying to convince them not to enter into exclusive talks with Mandalay Baseball. WECT.com has obtained a series of emails sent to the city manager from a group called Compass Consulting Group (CCG).

In the emails, John Wayne Bland talks about Sims Hinds, who was involved with the Wilmington Waves, the first minor league team to come to Wilmington. Despite having a following of 130,000 fans in its first season, according to published reports, the Waves lost about $1 million after spending $750,000 to renovate the baseball park at UNCW.

Sources say the pitch from CCG did not contain much substance and it doesn't look like it will prevent the city from moving forward with entering into exclusive talks with Mandalay.

The emails also talked about another potential site for the ballpark, listed as 1551 Point Harbor Drive, across the river from the Convention Center and PPD. Sources say that site would be difficult to develop because much of it considered to be wetlands and no sewage or utilities are connected to that site at this time.

Copyright 2012 WECT. All rights reserved.

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