Brunswick Co., Leland leaders say bond not being considered to pay for baseball development
BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Brunswick County and Leland officials said during a news conference Tuesday that a municipal bond is not being considered to pay for their portion of a proposed baseball and entertainment development.
The Town of Leland announced last month the possibility of “a world-class development concept with sports and entertainment as the anchor.” The development would be located over 1,400 acres along Hwy 17 next to Brunswick Forest.
A feasibility study and economic analysis are currently under way to determine how the county and town would pay for the baseball stadium portion of the development.
“We’ve looked at many different approaches and options in terms of financing the cost of the stadium,” said Haynes Brigman, Deputy Brunswick County Manager. “One thing that we’ve zeroed in on - both the county and the town - is we want to find a funding mechanism that doesn’t use existing tax dollars.”
“What were doing now is our due diligence and an economic analysis on the development of both the baseball stadium and the development around it to see if the revenues generated from that kind of development - whether its land donation, tax-base growth, sales tax generation, jobs, all of the economic impacts of that - are those enough to help fund the cost of the stadium from the county’s and town’s perspective.”
“It’s important that the public knows we’re not going with a bond and we’re not considering using current public tax funds. It will be revenue driven specifically by the project,” added Gary Vidmar, Leland’s Economic and Community Development Manager.
Sean Decker with REV Development said during Tuesday’s press event that REV will match the money paid by the county and stadium and sink those funds into the surrounding development.
“Our commitment is whatever the cost of the stadium is that the county and town bear, we’ll match every one of those dollars with development around it,” Decker said.
Decker also added that it was unlikely that stadium would be the home of a Major League Baseball-affiliated minor league team at least in the beginning stages.
“Realistically, it will likely start as a new independent team in there,” Decker said. “But we’re not closing the door. Since information has broke here in the region, we have fielded a number of calls from folks that are interested. There is no lack of interest in being in Brunswick County. We’re committing to an independent team for sure and we’re obviously open to other scenarios.”
Vidmar says the stadium would initially be built to hold about 3,500 people and could eventually fit 5,000 to 6,000.
Decker added that expectations would be that the baseball stadium would be ready for opening day in 2026 and is optimistic the project will get off the ground.
“We’ve invested a ton of time and some money and a lot of effort to making sure this is a success,” Decker said. “So I don’t want to get ahead of myself in one way or the other, and I don’t know if it’s a coin flip, I don’t know where to actually put it. All I can tell you is we’re committed to working really hard to make this a reality.”
While Tuesday’s conference was intended to be a Q&A session for members of the media, several concerned and interested residents showed up looking for answers. Among them was Spencer Sikder, who thinks the complex should be built elsewhere.
“I don’t think it needs to be here in the community,” Sikder said. “We’ve got plenty of open spaces down along Highway 17. Some other people mentioned other areas that would, you know, be better to develop. So, I’m not opposed to baseball. I’m just opposed to how they’re going about it.”
You can watch the media session below:
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