Proposed Baseball Stadium a HOT Button Issue. Opinions Seem to be Split and Both Sides are Passionate About Their Thoughts. Where do You Stand?
“Keep your ears open, your minds open, and become a part of this discussion” County Commissioner, Jonathon Barfield, commented in conversation of a possible Atlanta Braves franchise coming to Wilmington. On Tuesday morning, elite members of the Atlanta Braves Organization gathered for the sold-out Power Breakfast. Panel members included, Bobby Cox, former manager of the Atlanta Braves, John Schuerholz, Atlanta Braves President, Chip Moore, Atlanta Braves senior vice president and CFO, Rich Neumann, Mandalay Baseball president of Baseball Development. Wilmington’s Mayor, Bill Saffoo was also an attendant. Thinking before acting was the message Saffo delivered to the business leaders and attendees. Weighing all options and getting all the facts about the possible future minor league baseball team before making an opinion is the route Saffo stressed to take. On July 31, a memorandum initiated by Wilmington City Council, ends with the option for the city, Atlanta Braves, and Mandalay Baseball to come together and extend it. The memorandum is an understanding of the two baseball organizations. It was recently approved by the Council to spend up to $123,500 on the cost to research locations and cost of building the stadium. If the Atlanta Braves and Mandalay Baseball organization bring a minor league team, the initial plan calls for the city to build a $35 – $40 million stadium. The 6,000 seat stadium can be used for year-round multi-purpose activities and is estimatedto bring in 350,000 visitors a year. Although Saffo would not mention possible hot areas for the stadium to land, officials would consider popular downtown Wilmington near the Wilmington Convention Center. Where ever the stadium will end up, there is no question that Mandalay and the Braves will remain seriously committed to Wilmington. Officials back the idea of the minor league baseball team being an asset to our economy. Maybe it’s the $2 million a year the stadium would spend on local vendors and businesses for food and equipment? Or maybe providing around about 200 part time jobs and nearly 25 full-time jobs? Either one resulted in Neumann stating, “This is not going to fail.”