Tuesday, January 18, 2022

City makes counter-offer on proposed stadium project

WILMINGTON – After more than an hour in closed session Friday morning, the Wilmington City Council emerged with a counter-offer to the latest proposal from the Atlanta Braves and Mandalay Baseball Properties for a minor-league stadium in the city.

The nature of the city’s new offer, or that of the Braves/Mandalay offer the city countered, was not made public. But Mayor Bill Saffo said after the meeting that council had examined “a number of changes.”

“We’ve done a lot of work on this,” Saffo said. “It’s a very large document.”

The city and the Braves/Mandalay group have extended negotiations since August on the prospect of a public-private partnership to build a 5,500-seat ballpark in Wilmington that would be home to a Braves minor-league team.

To pay for land and construction, a not-to-exceed $37 million bond referendum will go before Wilmington voters this November.

The council at its September 4 meeting voted to continue its talks and possibly address a stadium deal at its September 18 meeting.

Asked whether the negotiations will wrap in time for that meeting, Councilman Kevin O’Grady said, “We hope so.”

City staffers will forward the Braves and Mandalay the recommended changes to the draft agreement and await response.

“We’re working hard on the agreement with the Braves and Mandalay as we said we would,” Saffo said. “This is a big deal for the city.”

The council’s closed session began at 9 a.m. Friday in City Manager Sterling Cheatham’s office.

State law allows governments to hold closed-door sessions for such  business discussions, though approving economic development contracts or commitments, or to authorize the payment of related expenditures, must take place openly.

A Port City Daily story on the baseball proposal and city expenditures involved so far can be seen here.

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