Wilmington council balking at choice of Ripken for ballpark - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Some council members balk at choice of Ripken for ballpark

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Some members of Wilmington City Council are expressing concern with city staff's recommendation to award a contract to Ripken Design to manage the ballpark project.

Late last week, an agenda posted on the city's website indicated the city manager would recommend Ripken Design out of ten potential project managers. The city, Mandalay Baseball and the Atlanta Braves are currently negotiating exclusively for a period of six months on the possibility.

Council is set to vote on the project manager contract Tuesday night.  During the agenda briefing Monday morning, Councilman Kevin O'Grady said he's heard from the memorandum of understanding partners, either Mandalay or the Braves, and that they consider Ripken to be a direct competitor. O'Grady says the city should not select them because of those concerns. He expressed concern with how the Braves or Mandalay would respond to a request for confidential information from Ripken during this process.

Assistant City Manager Tony Caudle says Ripken is not able to bring his own team to Wilmington under Major League Baseball rules and that shouldn't be a concern. Caudle says the project manager will only be looking at information the Braves supply.

Councilwoman Margaret Haynes says she found it dismaying to find out about the decision by reading it in the newspaper. She fears people may be blinded by the fame of the Ripken Group. Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken is the president of the company that bears his name.  Ripken played his entire career with the Baltimore Orioles, setting a Major League Baseball record for most consecutive games played.

National Sports Services is considered the second choice for project manager, according to city staff.

In other news to come out of the agenda brief, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said he'd like council to consider hiring a lobbyist for both Raleigh and Washington, D.C.  Saffo says the need has increased in recent years.

WECT.com is gathering more information in this developing story. Keep clicking on this story for updated information as it becomes available.

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