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Ballpark plan brings enthusiasm, skepticism

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Could this be our field of dreams, and if we build it will they come? Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo thinks so.

“After several tries and weathering a tough economic climate for the last few years, we believe we have finally gotten a proposal that gives the city what we ask for,” Saffo said.

He is talking about a new convention center hotel and baseball park for downtown Wilmington.

Jeff Hren is cautiously optimistic.

“I think a ballpark downtown would be a good idea if it would be economically viable,” he said. “What are we doing building a ballpark downtown if it can’t pay for itself?”

Does that sound familiar? That is what people said when the Convention Center was proposed.

Kim Hufham with the Convention and Visitors Bureau says the hotel is a must.

“We have some associations and groups that we’re working with that require that the hotel be adjacent to the convention in order to even come,” Hufham said.

Brian Stewart loves baseball. He is the head coach at Ashley High School, and he thinks a ballpark would be a good addition to the city.

“I think it would be great for downtown,” Stewart said. “All of the revitalization they are doing with the Convention Center, especially if they made it multi-use, and who knows? They could possibly work out something with Cape Fear Community College and possibly have baseball at the community college level.”

While people are talking and it is generally positive, the city is not quite ready to take you out the ballpark just yet. The proposal is just that. Mandalay Baseball Properties has six months to figure out a potential deal with the city including cost, location, teams available to relocate and whether there’s public support to do it.

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