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Braves say they have private financing plan for Wilmington ballpark

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The Atlanta Braves and Mandalay Baseball Properties say they have a financing model that would allow a proposed ballpark in Wilmington be financed and constructed privately. Braves Executive Vice President of Business Operations Mike Plant made the announcement at a news conference in downtown Wilmington this morning.

Wilmington developer, Raiford Trask, the President of Trask Land Company, and Clay Boardman, CEO of Flywheel LLC in Georgia, have stepped up to the plate as the private partners.

It’s still not clear, though, how much everyone involved, including taxpayers, would have to pay to build the stadium.

Plant said the ballpark plan would remain a private-public partnership. He said the Braves and Mandalay, which would own the Braves minor league affiliate in Wilmington, will present their plan in approximately 30 days to City Council and city staff.

“We consider this a great opportunity to complete this project by 2014 and give the city a viable alternative to bring Braves baseball to Wilmington,” Plant said.

Mandalay’s Rich Neumann said with private financing, the group, which includes local and out-of-state investors, can secure a loan term of up to 30 years. That’s longer than the 20-year term likely available to the city.

“This is a private initiative now, but it’s a public-private partnership,” Neumann said.

The Braves and Mandalay have put together a development team. Members say they will help minimize the city’s construction risk and speed up the timeline so the team can begin playing in April 2014.

The Braves currently own all of their minor league affiliates with the exception of one. That team is the Lynchburg Hillcats, which play in the high Class A Carolina League. The Braves want to move that team under their ownership to Wilmington.

Neumann said there are several sites under consideration for the ballpark, but he said it would be premature to identify those sites at this point.

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