The Atlanta Braves attempt to move their Class High-A affiliate from Lynchburg, Virginia, to Wilmington, North Carolina, hit a major hurdle Tuesday night. A referendum on the local ballot in Wilmington that would have provided $37 million in funding for the new stadium was crushed by voters, with a reported 70% opposing the new spending.
The referendum would have paid for the bonds by raising property taxes 2.5 cents on every $100 in home value, or $50 a year for a $200,000 home.
The Braves and their partner, Mandalay Baseball, issued a statement saying they are disappointing the ballpark referendum was defeated, but did not specify any plans to either move forward with an alternate form of financing in Wilmington. For now it looks like the Braves High-A affiliate will be staying in Lynchburg.
Here is a quote from the Wilmington Mayor regarding the future of baseball in the city:
"There have been other groups that have come in that talked about doing a private consortium that never materialized," said Mayor Saffo. "I'll never say never and where there is a will there is usually a way, but at this point from the City's perspective, City Council's perspective, it's done."
Up until now the Braves have had great success getting local jurisdictions to pay for their minor league stadiums, beginning with Rome, then Pearl, Mississippi, and most recently the debacle in Gwinnett. If they wish to have any more new stadiums for their minor league teams, they may have to find a new avenue to fund such ventures.