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Nasty ballpark fight emerging in Wilmington

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Carolina League

Expect lots of outside money, as opponents and proponents of a publicly funded ballpark in Wilmington (N.C.) prepare to spend lots of money to sway voters to their side in the November elections.

We've already seen Americans for Prosperity, the right-wing anti-government advocacy group founded by the Koch brothers, spend $20,000 on an effort to derail the ballpark effort before it was approved by the City Council. That effort failed, as the council voted to put a $37-million bonding proposal before the public in the November elections. The proposal is still a work in process: the council has moved ahead with the assumption that $6 million would be spent on land and $31 million on the ballpark itself, but a lease between the city and Mandalay Baseball Properties, which would manage the ballpark on behalf of the city and a High Class A Carolina League team owned by the Atlanta Braves, has not yet been finalized.

Despite the lack of agreement, Mandalay's Rich Neumann says his firm will spend $150,000 in a public-relations effort to persuade voters to support the measure, and another group pushing the ballpark is expecting to lobby voters as well. On the other side, you can expect the Big Talker to continue its opposition to the measure, bolstered by a poll from the conservative Civitas Institute indicating 80 percent of Wilmington taxpayers opposing public funding of a ballpark

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