Here is the latest update on the soon-to-be Wilmington Braves, which would be an Advanced A-ball affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, replacing their current affiliate, the Lynchburg Hillcats. The report comes via a local North Carolina news channel:
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. [...]
"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.
That's great news for the folks in Wilmington. Not only will they not have to shoulder the tax burden of a baseball stadium, but they should reap all the benefits of a minor league team and the development that is being proposed around the stadium area.
While the stadium itself would seem to be privately financed, in these types of deals the "public" part of the still mentioned public-private partnership in the quote above would likely be in the form of free land. Essentially the city of Wilmington would buy and/or secure the land for the park and lease or give it to the Braves to build the stadium on. That could involve land already owned by the city, or land secured by a purchase or eminent domain (hopefully not the latter).
The Braves seem dead set on making this deal happen, and have already quickly worked their way around the first obstacle, which was the resistance of many in Wilmington to build the team a stadium with taxpayers' money.
I like the idea of putting the team in Wilmington. It's an undeserved market for baseball, it gives the Braves a team on the coast (replacing their presence in Myrtle), and it's closer to Atlanta than Lynchburg, which means I would be able to get up there and see them more often. As I've said in other articles on this proposed deal, I just wish they would choose a more original name than the Wilmington Braves. That's not official yet (it's just my speculation), but you know it's gonna happen.