Wilmington baseball stadium boosters fail to spend enough to buy vote

Unless I’m mistaken, there was only one stadium-related ballot measure yesterday, and voters in Wilmington, North Carolina decisively rejected a proposal to spend $37 million on a facility to bring a single-A Atlanta Braves farm club to town. (The current Braves affiliates at that level are the Lynchburg Hillcats and the Rome Braves, but stadium developer Mandalay Baseball could always have moved a different team and re-affiliated it with the Braves instead of moving one of those.)

This is no surprise when you look at early polling, which showed the stadium plan to be overwhelmingly unpopular. And even less of a surprise considering the campaign spending on the ballot measure, which looks to have been about $113,000 on the pro side, and $32,432 on the con side. That’s well beneath the threshold of the 100-to-1 rule, which states that only referendums in which stadium boosters outspend opponents by more than a 100-to-1 margin (more or less) have a chance at passage. The public will can still beat big money in this country, at least until it’s BIG big money.


9 comments on “Wilmington baseball stadium boosters fail to spend enough to buy vote

  1. There was actually another one in El Paso, TX. While their Proposition 3 wasn’t strictly about the ballpark it is the identified funding mechanism for their new ballpark for the soon to be ex-Tucson Padres. And it passed with over 60% of the vote.

  2. Good catch, El Paso totally slipped my mind. (And my Google searches.) Will post an update shortly.

  3. $37M for Single-A? What we had here was a failure to be anything remotely resembling reasonable. I assume “Mandalay Baseball” was going to “contribute” -$25M?

  4. Keyspan Park in Brooklyn, also single-A, cost $55 million. You can spend a lot when you have a lot to spend.

  5. I know someone in El Paso (A Very strong NO supporter (I asked her where she stood)), who told me that the location of the Stadium will be in the WORST Section of El Paso (Near the El Paso/Juarez, Mexico Border). Important point: She is of MEXICAN Heritage so no one can say it is anti-Mexican sentiment.

  6. Sounds like sour grapes to me. From what I understand the location is in the heart of downtown which is the best location for a ballpark in most towns. Downtown is right next to the border, but then so is most of El Paso as well as UTEP and its stadium and Interstate 10. If she doesn’t like being near Juarez I suggest she move to a city that isn’t right next to Juarez.

  7. “…You can spend a lot when you have a lot to spend…”
    that was the case during the bubble years of the late 90′s,
    not now…

  8. Neil; that adage is particularly true when it is someone else’s money that you are spending. When sports owners are spending their own money (admittedly, a rare case these days) we invariably find that their stated needs are more modest and no dollar gets spent that cannot earn a reasonable return.

    Of course, the need to earn a return on invested capital can be waived when the capital belongs to others.

  9. They really need to consult with Jed York on how to buy an election (and later suppress resident’s petition for a re-vote).

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