A lively baseball debate on whether or not Wilmington taxpayers should fund a 37-million dollar stadium took place last night in the WHQR gallery.
Mayor Bill Saffo and Councilman Kevin O’Grady rallied for a stadium. Jim Rafferty and Scott Harry of Vote No Stadium Tax Committee opposed the proposal. WHQR’s Sara Wood reports Rafferty and Harry say it’s not the best time to spend public funds to bring a minor league affiliate of the Atlanta Braves to town.
Armed with a large box of supporting documents, Harry says the stadium is a gamble, and asking taxpayers to shoulder debt to build it is an unbearable burden.
“It’s private enterprise that built the city, it’s private enterprise that will sustain this city. And subsidizing a leisure activity doesn’t seem to me a very efficient use of government funds.”
Harry refutes claims that a stadium will spark economic development in Wilmington.
“With the preponderance of economic assessments we’ve seen, all the analysts point to the same thing: that this doesn’t bring jobs to town. You’re not going to benefit for this, you’re going to be taxed for this.”
Rafferty points to economists who argue projects like this don’t work in locations where stadiums serve as the anchor for development.
“In cities in which there isn’t a blight, the dog don’t hunt. It just doesn’t bring jobs, it does not bring additional funding, it does not bring anything to the city, so this just not a good business deal.”
Rafferty says the absence of private investment is alarming.
“I think the important part, is why private investors are not stepping up to this if there’s money to be made, and permit the city to do what the city does very, very well, and that’s to gain property taxes from corporations and companies that move here.”