Local
5:00 am
Tue August 7, 2012

Wilmington City Council supports $37 million bond for baseball, but voters make the final call

Wilmington City Council intends to move forward with a $37 million bond referendum to build a baseball stadium. 

WHQR’s Andrew Jarachovic reports that the campaign to gain voter approval promises to be a hard-fought battle.    

Some citizens have voiced strong disapproval of using taxpayer money to subsidize a recreational venture. Even well-known sports economists, like Professor Allen Sanderson from the University of Chicago, argue that sports stadiums, if looked at purely as an investment, are not a wise move.   

“Now if taxpayers want to say ‘Yeah, our eyes are wide open.  We realize this is a very poor investment, like buying a dog or buying a boat -- but nevertheless it’s fun and we’re willing to self-tax to have this other arrow in our recreational quiver in Wilmington’ then fine with me.”

But Wilmington City Councilman Kevin O’Grady says voters should consider more than the immediate financial impact when they go to the polls in November. 

“The profit of a stadium doesn’t come from within the walls of the stadium.  The profit to the public comes from what happens around it.  And that’s what we would hope.  We got a great opportunity on our north side downtown to actually relieve property owners of the taxes on their houses by building vertically.  But to do that we’ve got to draw the kinds of businesses that will support that kind of development.” 

Both the mayor and city council say they recognize there is opposition and, ultimately, it’s up to the voters to make the decision. There will be a public hearing tonight at city hall.