LYNCHBURG, VA (WECT) – The ripple effect from the rejection of a bond referendum that would pay for a Minor League Baseball stadium in Wilmington stretches all the way up to Lynchburg, VA.
The General Manager of the Lynchburg Hillcats told WECT.com that baseball fans in the area are celebrating Wednesday.
"Things we do enhance the quality of life here and I think that's important to Lynchburg," said Paul Sunwall, GM of the Braves' affiliate. "It would be different had Wilmington built the stadium down there and we lost this particular franchise."
The group that owns the Hillcats worked a deal with the Atlanta Braves and Mandalay Baseball, contingent on the passing of the $37 million bond referendum. The two would have bought the Hillcats organization, moved it to Wilmington and replaced it in Lynchburg with a team in a smaller league. Sunwall said that the Braves' Executive VP of Business Development let him know the team will be staying in Lynchburg. Calls to representatives from both companies were not returned in time for this report.
Sunwall said the uncertainty of the deal is over with the results of Tuesday's election.
"All that is behind us and now we can move forward," he said.
Before this deal fell apart, Sunwall said he went through a similar defeat to public opinion when Lynchburg's stadium needed $6.5 million in renovations. The owners group had to cover half the cost, but Sunwall added that the project passed before the recession hit. He doubts a bond referendum like Wilmington's would pass in Lynchburg.
"In this economy, we certainly understand," he said. "There was a lot of politicking in ours too, so we've been through it."
Tuesday morning, Mayor Bill Saffo explained that, from city council's standpoint, baseball is done in Wilmington.
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