National Sports Service, a consulting firm hired by the City of Wilmington, presented its updated findings last night from its feasibility study of whether or not to bring a baseball team to town.
WHQR's Sara Wood reports the study includes several components, including public opinion.
Of the almost 1,000 people National polled, 48 percent say they are supportive of a public/private funding partnership for a stadium, while 40 percent are opposed to the idea. Several audience members were skeptical of the numbers, saying they did not accurately reflect the community that would be affected by a stadium. But Matt Perry, president of National says the purpose of the poll was not science, but rather a tool to see where the public might stand on the matter. He says the study is not finished, and that National is being lead by the information, not the other way around.
“There's been a lot of assumption that we're trying to help Mandalay make this happen or because we've done a lot in the baseball industry we're going to get some benefit if this moves forward. And to us it's all about the accuracy of information that we're able to put together. We just want to make sure we've looked at all the ins and outs of this project.”
Representatives from National reported that of the 82 minor league ballparks they've studied since 1995, two-thirds were funded by public-private partnerships. Perry says the firm has a lot to sandwich in before the report is finalized in two weeks, including funding and financing recommendations.
The group also narrowed down possible sites for a stadium to three spots, including Downtown, Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway Corridor, and Eastwood Road Corridor. Councilman Neil Andersen attended the meeting and says even though National is set to release its final report to the council before it finalizes the budget in June, it doesn't necessarily mean a ballpark is going to be a done deal by then.
“The land piece. That's huge! And that's yet to be resolved. And that will have to be resolved before the city decides whether moves forward or not. So, some of this rush we've been in under to get this done in June starts to look very doubtful that anything will happen in June.”
For the next two weeks, National will take a closer look at the three sites, considering specific factors such as space, cost, and community input. Representatives from the firm say they will rank the three sites in order of preference for its final report to the city, due on June 15.