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City leaders say petition against publicly-funded ballpark ‘a big mistake’

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The City of Wilmington received a petition today with more than 4,000 signatures. If verified, it will force the city to either adopt an initiative blocking tax money for a ballpark or let voters decide. The move has city leaders fired up.

“The proponents of this, failed politicians that they were, are now going to force the city to spend money to approve this very ill-conceived petition,” Councilman Kevin O’Grady said.

Wilmington City Council members say they are concerned with the broad language in the petition against tax payer funding of a ballpark.

Regardless of their feelings, organizers submitted about the signatures Thursday that will throw a wrench in the ballpark process.

The group that headed up the effort says they just want what’s best for Wilmington and its residents.

“I think that we win in a big way,” organizer Joshua Fulton said. “Eighty-percent of the people in Wilmington don’t want their tax dollars to go up to fund this project, so we’re going to win.”

Members of council say the language of that petition not only affects the new ballpark but also affects other sports teams in the Port City.

“The Sharks and the Hammerheads are not paying the full rate (to rent city stadiums),” Mayor Bill Saffo said. “We subsidize some of those services. We’ll have to take a look at that if that petition is put on the ballot and is passed by the citizens of this community.”

The petition says no city monies shall be used to fund any multi-use sports stadiums for professional sports or other events. O’Grady thinks many of those people who signed the petition did not understand the implications of it.

“When you’re driven by ideology, which is what this is, you make mistakes, and they made a big mistake here; a mistake which, if the citizens buy it, will affect the future of this city,” O’Grady said.

The next step is for the Board of Elections to verify the signatures.

Mandalay Baseball, which would manage the ballpark, says it will wait on verification before deciding what to do.

More: continued here

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