Group to offer private financing, construction proposal for new ballpark in Wilmington

Wilmington, N.C. – This morning, the Atlanta Braves and Mandalay Baseball announced that a group of local, regional and national developers and investors will present the City Council with a proposal to privately finance and construct a new ballpark in Wilmington.

This team, including developer Raiford Trask III, architectural firm LS3P and co-developer Flywheel, LLC, will take the next 30 days to draft a plan, including costs and benefits for the City of Wilmington. The plan will then be presented to the City Council who will have the opportunity to review and vote on the proposal after it is vetted by an independent firm, which the city is expected to name next week.

Mike Plant, executive vice president of the Atlanta Braves said that this is a financing model the Braves have used to great success.

“We believe the city council will quickly recognize the value and opportunity this approach provides,” Plant said.

The ballpark will remain a public-private partnership between the city and private investors, and the Braves and Mandalay have restated their long-term commitment to Wilmington. One potential benefit of private financing is a longer potential loan term that reduces annual costs. In addition, the city will not be taking on the construction and financing risks, which will be borne by the private developers.

Rich Neumann, president of baseball development for Mandalay Baseball said that today’s announcement and this private proposal come as a response to several conversations he’s had with Wilmington residents in the past few months.

“I have had conversations with all the members of the City Council, Wilmington business leaders and residents, and one of their chief concerns has been the city taking responsibility for financing and constructing a ballpark,” Neumann said. “Thanks to Raiford and Clay and the group here today, we can address their concerns while also putting together a great deal for the city.

“Making the announcement with us today, we have our entire development and financing team. These respected local groups will put together and present the city council with a proposal for their consideration in time for budget deliberations.”

Neumann said that today’s announcement represents an important next step for the project.

“Ultimately, a privately-funded ballpark will be a better deal for Wilmington, and addresses the concerns we’ve heard from taxpayers,” Neumann said.

Members of the development team include:

Mike Plant and Chip Moore with the Atlanta Braves
Rich Neumann with Mandalay Baseball Properties
Clay Boardman with Flywheel, LLC in Augusta, GA; co-developer
Raiford Trask with Trask Land Company in Wilmington, NC; co-developer
Chris Boney with LS3P Associates Ltd. in Wilmington; lead architect of the development team
Laura Miller with LS3P Associates
Jonathan Cole with Pendulum Studio in Kansas City, MO; design architect
Chet Roach with Brailsford & Dunlavey in Charlotte, NC; project manager
Mark Jones with Brasfield & Gorrie in Raleigh, NC; co-construction manager
Chris Reid with Thomas Construction Group in Wilmington, NC; co-construction manager
Richard Collier and Margaret Gray with McKim & Creed in Wilmington, NC; civil engineers