FIRST LOOK: "Yes" baseball effort raises less money than planned - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

FIRST LOOK: "Yes" baseball effort raises less money than planned

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Twelve donations have been made to the effort to bring a minor league baseball stadium to downtown Wilmington, according to third quarter financial reports made available Tuesday at the New Hanover County Board of Elections.

The donations are mostly from those who would benefit directly from the city of Wilmington buying land and building a stadium in the downtown area to house an Atlanta Braves' minor league team. 

The Wilmington Family Entertainment and Baseball Coalition has raised nearly $113,000, short of the original goal of $150,000. Chamber President Connie Majure-Rhett said Tuesday that the group had raised what was necessary for a strong campaign and doesn't need to reach that original goal.

"Our volunteers are donating their time, which is certainly a value," she said. "But you don't report that on a campaign disclosure form."

The coalition wants voters in the city to approve a $37 million bond referendum to pay for land acquisition and construction of the stadium. The referendum would require a 2.5 cent tax increase for property owners.

More than half of the donations to the coalition, $65,551, have paid for the services of a Raleigh-based public relations firm, Capstrat. That money includes media buys and direct mailers.

Mandalay Baseball, one of two private businesses working with the city of Wilmington to bring the team and stadium to the Port City, has contributed less money to the effort than originally pledged.  Meeting minutes from a Wilmington Chamber of Commerce meeting earlier this year indicated Rich Neumann with Mandalay Baseball pitched donating $50,000 to the "Vote Yes" effort. However, the report shows Mandalay has contributed $12,500 to the committee.  The company still has time to make up the rest of its original pledge. 

The Atlanta Braves also contributed $12,500. The team would move its single-A affiliate from Lynchburg to Wilmington, should voters pass the referendum on November 6th

Both companies that own land for the proposed site of the stadium contributed as much as, or more than, the Atlanta Braves and Mandalay. Local developer Chuck Shoninger's company USA Investco put up $12,500, while Sawmill Point Investors LLC shelled out $25,000. This week, the Sawmill group came to an agreement with the city of Wilmington over land that would be used to house the stadium. 

A fifth company that would potentially gain from the passing of the bond referendum is LS3P Associates LTD of Charleston, SC. The company that's the likely candidate to design the stadium gave $10,000 to the coalition's campaign account. 

The five donors that would directly benefit from a new stadium in Wilmington make up less than half of the campaign contributors but roughly 64% of the money raised.

Click here to read about the campaign efforts of the "Vote No Stadium Tax" committee.

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