Talking Chop was the first Braves site to bring you the news that the organization was looking to move one of its minor league teams to Wilmington, North Carolina. Bobby Cox and other Braves executives have had meetings with Wilmington City Counsel Members about constructing a new stadium for a Braves minor league affiliate. Now it appears the Wilmington City Counsel is about to set the wheels in motion to negotiate with the Braves. From the Lumina News:
Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo and city council held a press conference Tuesday, Jan. 31 to announce that council will move into serious talks about locating a minor league baseball stadium in Wilmington.
The council will vote in next Tuesday’s regular meeting to approve a memorandum with the understanding that the city of Wilmington, Mandalay Entertainment and the Atlanta Braves Professional Baseball Club will work on finding an agreement for bringing a baseball stadium and team to the city during the next six months. [...]
Mandalay Entertainment and the Atlanta Braves want the stadium to be operational by 2014, Saffo said; hence the urgency to begin discussions.
Mandalay Entertainment via its subsidiary, Mandalay Sports Entertainment, has an ownership stake and/or consults with six current minor league teams, from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barreto the highly successful Dayton Dragons, who have sold out a record 815 consecutive games. They also recently began consulting with a seventh team, the Winston-Salem Dash. I imagine that their role in this venture would be as a partner/consultant to the Braves in a new Class-A Advanced franchise in Wilmington.
The Braves agreement with the Lynchburg Hillcats, the Atlanta organization's current Class-A Advanced affiliate, will expire at the end of the 2014 season, so the urgency the article speaks about is surely meant to imply that the Braves would like a new stadium in place for the 2015 season, when they would presumably move their Class-A Advanced team from Lynchburg to Wilmington. At the same time the Braves would likely switch from having an independently owned Class-A Advanced team to one that is owned by the parent Major League organization, which is the case with all other Braves minor league teams.
It is now clear that the Braves are determined to bring all of their minor league teams under their ownership and control, leaving no independently owned teams within the organizational structure. The Wilmington Braves would be the final piece of that puzzle.