Sunday, February 26, 2012

Winston-Salem's Stadium Experience

Looks like they were right where we are (but with a less expensive stadium) four years ago.


In 2007, Winston-Salem City Council meetings sounded similar to recent ones held here.

Residents attended a meeting in January of that year to speak for and against building a minor league baseball stadium, some disapproving of the city using taxpayer dollars for the project, according to the meeting’s minutes.

The city initially contributed about $12 million to Brookstown Development Partners LLC and Sports Menagerie LLC to build the stadium, where the Winston-Salem Dash now plays.

But later, when the developer had trouble securing financing because of the economic downfall in the middle of 2008, the city council voted unanimously to give an additional $15.7 million to finish the stadium’s construction.


  1. Excellent and let's fast forward to today and assess the experience of the Winston-Salem stadium project. Lee Garrity, city manager of Winston-Salem, said that the team has to sell 300,000 tickets a season — roughly 4,300 tickets for each home game — to be able to pay back the city and the banks. In it's first two years, attendance has averaged in excess of 4,600 per game and this success after having averaged less than 1,000 per game prior to the new stadium. The returns from 2011 have yet to be published, but 2010 revenues exceeded the city's direct expenses by $86,000.

    All this even before accounting for the indirect but real benefits including more than 40 percent of the team's season ticket holders were from outside Winston-Salem, a benefit for restaurants, retailers and attractions in downtown Winston-Salem. In addition, the Dash also partnered with more than 100 local nonprofit organizations during 2010, including work with Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina, Boy Scouts of America, Brenner Children's Hospital, Toys for Tots and Habitat for Humanity. The Dash MVP Program partnered with 80 schools from throughout the Piedmont Triad to reward students for reaching learning goals as designated by their teachers. More than 43,000 students participated in the program.

    There can be no question thus far that Winston-Salem is reaping a meaningful return both in direct and indirect public benefits from their investment in the community. Wilmington has all the attributes necessary for similar if not greater success...

    1. Winston-Salem doesn't have beaches. We do. People here go to the beach - not baseball games. In addition, the minutia of details in the Winston-Salem stadium deal may in fact be different than the deal proposed for here. If the city is talking about ticket sales to cover the debt on the stadium, then it is definitely different. Mandalay has said that our deal here would require them to collect 100% from all revenue streams. That means no matter how many tickets we sell, or how much of an overall success the stadium may be, we will never be able to pay for it through attendance and sales, because Mandalay pockets all of that. In return, they will pay us a very nominal, tiny fee in rent every year, that won't even cover a fraction of the light bill for the stadium. Our deal is truly on the backs of taxpayers shouldering the debt indefinitely no matter what. Anyone who thinks this is a good idea needs to have their head examined.

    2. Let's let the facts guide our decisions. You say people don't go to baseball games, yet in fact Wilmington Waves led by an ineffective ownership team and administration with no experience in baseball operations and promotions, drew over 2,000 fans per night to a stadium poorly located and inadequate for a professional baseball operation. With a new stadium in a downtown location situated as an entertainment destination owned and operated by an elite partnership combining baseball and entertainment expertise, it stands to reason that our experience could at least equal that of the Dash.
      In terms of the financing structure, again you resort to the age old tactic of imagining hypotheticals that best fit your argument independent of their basis in fact. In fact, the ultimate financing structure is as yet unknown but will be determined after a thorough and professional evaluation of a variety of options - both public and private. The starting point for any financing is the very meaningful 20 year lease commitment on the part of the Braves/Mandalay. Far from nominal and tiny as you describe - the Dash pay Winston-Salem approx $850 thousand annually - the stadium lease represents a solid foundation to any financing package. Wilmington is fortunate to have a variety of funding mechanisms at our disposal and we are blessed with the financial expertise, flexibility and fiscal strength at both the city and county to make this a very viable investment for our citizens.
      Rather than make up imaginary disaster scenarios crafted to best support our political views, let's learn from the successes of others and let the facts guide our decisions as we evaluate this rare and very meaningful investment opportunity.

    3. Talk about imaginary...

      "Wilmington is fortunate to have a variety of funding mechanisms at our disposal and we are blessed with the financial expertise, flexibility and fiscal strength at both the city and county to make this a very viable investment for our citizens."

      I would love to see you elaborate on this with some actual facts behind it. You do know that city taxpayers are already in debt to the tune of $200 million, right? Cities usually file for bankruptcy at around $300 million, so that's one milestone we can look forward to. The city has stated that the yearly price tag for the stadium is going to be about $3.5 million/year - so even with your $850,000 you mentioned in the Winston scenario, that still leaves quite a chunk to throw on the backs of taxpayers every single year. And that 20 year agreement you mentioned? Yeah - that can be broken easier than a "cross my heart and hope to die" promise. Happens all of the time. Look at the Meadowlands - and that's professional football. If I had to guess, I would say that you are definitely not a city taxpayer, and probably not even a city resident. Your response is typical from that crowd who are so self-absorbed, they take the position of "well hell I don't have to pay for it - so build me a stadium!" Whatever... look at the 20 disasters around the country for every one atypical scenario that you provide. We were told the same things about our convention center - and people like you were out there talking about "vision for our community" and "forward-thinking" blah blah blah - now when it is agreed that that thing is a complete embarassment and will cost us dearly for years, and will always be insolvent - none of you guys are anywhere to be found that cheerleaded for it. This is the same thing - where will you be when it fails?

    4. You will lose all credibility when you fabricate fairy tales about the financial position of the city and use them as scare tactics when it is a matter of public record. Your grasp of municipal finance is clearly not a strength. The notion that "cities file for bankruptcy at around $300 million" is sheer nonsense with no basis in fact and another fabrication intended to scare rather than inform the public and let facts guide their decision.

      You asked for facts and I will provide some. At present, unlike many other areas, we are fortunate as a city to have many fiscal strengths available to us to allow a serious exploration of this opportunity. As recently as June 2011, Moody’s Investor Services reaffirmed our credit rating at Aa1 which classifies Wilmington as a city who demonstrates “ very strong creditworthiness relative to other US municipal issuers” driven in large part by “the city’s sizable tax base with a growing coastal economy, healthy financial position enhanced by the presence of conservative policies.” Further in their analysis they identified several key fiscal strengths:
      - Effective financial management during economic downturn.
      - Budget reserves that still provide an adequate cushion.
      - Healthy and diverse local economy”.

      I hope that fills in a few of the critical gaps in your awareness of the relevant and material facts necessary for you to make any informed judgment on the matter.

      Let's learn from the successes of others, let the facts guide our decisions and leverage the many unique assets we have as a city/county and give this investment opportunity the careful fact-based evaluation that the citizens of Wilmington and New Hanover County deserve....oh and yes, I am a city resident, property owner and taxpayer.

    5. Convention Center cheerleader here...
      The convention center is in no way an embarrassment to the community.
      You should really do your research instead of blogging without the facts.
      1) The convention center is not paid for by local tax dollars, it's paid for with a room tax revenue.
      2)The convention center was considered a success its first year by many sources and metrics. several conventions held at the convention center reported record attendance for their conventions.
      3) Over 65,000 people attended conventions there last year. That is without a hotel attached.
      4) Their are two hotels under construction near the convention center and two more planned. They wouldn't be built unless they thought it was going to be a success.
      5) Bookings are already up 40% over last year. Once the hotels are built, the center will drawer larger conventions that have overlooked downtown for now because of the lack of a hotel.
      The convention center is by no means an embarrassment to the community.

    6. "I am a city resident, property owner and taxpayer."

      And I would wager city employee or elected official as well - it's a guess, so don't accuse me of spreading misinformation. lies, and "nonsense". As for my points, I am recalling by memory - I may be a little off with figures, but I am in no way "spreading misinformation" or trying to mislead. I don't have a copy of the city's CAFR in front of me right now, but I have researched the topic extensively. If you want to do the research, you must look at every promised dime of debt that the city holds for all capital projects, enterprise funds, bonds, convention center, riverwalk, every parking deck, insurance premiums and benefits, and so on. The total accrued debt of the city projected outward, and you will come to a complete and full sum of around $194 million. As far as the cities filing for bankruptcy comment - again relying on memory. I will try to provide some examples. I was in no way making that up or simply trying to spread misinformation as you have accused me of. I may be off by a little, but it was not intentional, and it isn't by much. A fairer statement may be that we are much closer to complete financial insolvency than anything else. As far as Moody's, they have been under fire as of late for over-valuing governments - didn't they give the US the same grade? A country with a worthless dollar, and an insurmountable debt that can never be paid off? Those bullet points are the standard boilerplate for that particular grade, and do not reflect reality for Wilmington in any way. This city council has done nothing but spend money we don't have, and they have no inclination to do anything else. If this city really allowed conservative policies to guide their decisions, they would not indebt us for every wishlist project - they would live within their means. COPS and bonds are their favorite manner of "paying" for things, because it removes the immediate accountability. They can simply tack it on to their bill and stretch it out over time. And they know as well as anyone that an extremely small amount of the local population pays attention or even cares. So they get away with it, and will continue doing so. As for my bankruptcy comment - cities have filed for protection with much less debt.

      The point is, that we are heading down the same road as other cities have done - every city had some huge unexpected immediate expense - and we are in the same position. If something like that happens, we won't have the money. Taxes are already going up due to revaluation - even if the city doesn't spend one more dime, by as much as 25%-30%+ - doing anything to add to that would be a mistake.

    7. "1) The convention center is not paid for by local tax dollars, it's paid for with a room tax revenue."

      It is you who needs to check your facts. What you said it what was promised - it is in no way the reality. The ROT funds only generate about $2.5 million a year - the cost to pay for and operate the convention center is around $7 million - simple math says those numbers don't jive.

      "2)The convention center was considered a success its first year by many sources and metrics. several conventions held at the convention center reported record attendance for their conventions."

      There is no substance in this statement. Fine - I will contrast that with equal measure: The convention center was considered a dismal failure its first year by many sources and metrics. As far as your second sentence, that in no way speaks to the financial position of the center at all.

      3) Over 65,000 people attended conventions there last year. That is without a hotel attached.

      TO accuse me of blogging without facts, and then to say this without any, doesn't go without notice. Even if this is even close to true, again - it in no way speaks to the financial position of the center. Many of the shows were local wedding shows, home shows, etc. - and may have drawn a large local crowd. That does nothing to create the enormous economic spinoff that they promised us. My company had a booth at the tradeshow this past weekend, and it was packed. I talked to hundreds of people - guess what? About 95%+ local. The hotels weren't booked up, there was no swell of out of town guests flooding the streets.

      "4) Their are two hotels under construction near the convention center and two more planned. They wouldn't be built unless they thought it was going to be a success."

      I don't even know how to respond to this. First of all, I'm not aware of this. You are saying that there are 4 hotels either under construction or planned? In addition to the Hilton and the Best Western? So there will be 6 hotels total? I'll wait to make my point when they are built then - because that will be a catastrophe.

      "5) Bookings are already up 40% over last year. Once the hotels are built, the center will drawer larger conventions that have overlooked downtown for now because of the lack of a hotel."

      Not a hard feat when there were only like 9 conventions last year. The reason a hotel isn't built yet is because the city council got greedy and jumped the gun. Convention centers and hotels all over the nation that are attached to each other are managed and operated as one entity. This is the first one I have ever heard of that isn't. Remember the huge national hotel developer John Q. Hammonds? He was being approached about building a hotel. The Star News and the city reported that he backed out because he could not get financing. That was an absolute LIE. Hammonds is one of the biggest hotel developers in the nation - he can get the financing to build any hotel he wants. The letter he wrote to the city CLEARLY said that without the ability for him to manage both the hotel and the convention center as one, he couldn't make any money at it. This is why he backed out - but the city and the media covered up that embarrassing little fact. He wasn't about to build a hotel and trust another firm to operate it and make him money - that's just bad business. Do some research beyond reading the Star News - that is why after all of this time, we still don't have a hotel there. That in and of itself proves what a bunch of inept convention center managers this city council is.

    8. Once again you neglect to report all the facts or do a little research unless it supports your view only.
      The ROT is not the only revenue source for the convention center. Other sources are revenue generated by parking deck attached to the convention center for example plus money generated by the conventions and events themselves. Plus the 15 million that was set aside for the convention center operations that was generated by ROT from 2006 until the Convention center opened in November 2010. Rooms booked went up 10%in the city last year even with the bad economy. Once the new hotels are built, even larger conventions will be held downtown and more ROT revenue will be generated.
      BUT the city and county do not pay for the operation of the convention center.

      The convention center is considered a success by several things. One being that the majority of conventions held here reported record attendances for there conventions. If I held a convention in a place that brought me record attendance, I would make sure to use the same place the next year. The economic impact on the community for convention centers booked already for this coming year is estimated at over 41 million. That's 11 conventions booked already with 21 inquires for the year so far. The main reason conventions decline to come here is lack of a hotel, but if you followed current events, you would know the city is in the final stages of sale of the land for a Embassy Suites or a Sheraton to be built and open by 2014.

      Now if you had been paying attention, or just did a little research you would know a 125 room 7 floor Courtyard Marriott is currently under construction at the corner of Second and Grace. The ground has already been broken and foundation well under way. The other hotel is a Indigo hotel, 135 rooms and 9 floors, directly across the street from the convention center. The land has been cleared and plans are to start building in the next couple of months as soon as permitting is completed.
      The last hotel, I don't remember exactly where it is planned downtown, but I believe is was a Hampton Inn.
      All except maybe the Hampton Inn are projected to be open by 2014.
      I don't why you think this would be a catastrophe, these companies do plenty of research before they star building a hotel, to large an investment not to. How many hotels of any size have you seen abandoned?
      These facts all come from watching the local news, googling and looking at the whole story. You seem to cherry pick your facts and create the worst doom and gloom scenario possible.

    9. FYI trade shows are events that are meant to draw locals not for out of town folks. The true conventions generated around 3,400 hotel room stays in its first year.

    10. I took your "near the convention center" comment regarding hotels as being closer proximity than some of the ones you mentioned. I was aware of those others. The fact is universally, hotels attached to convention centers is what people are drawn to when they attend conventions. The ones several blocks away are not going to have a significant impact.

      As far as everything else I stated, I stand completely behind my comments. Yes - the parking deck revenues help pay for the center - what is that, something like 1% of the annual debt payment? And yes, I am of course aware of the $15 million in savings from the ROT, but you better check where that balance is as of now, since they have had to dip into it significantly. At the current rate, it will run out in the next 2 years or less, and then where will we be? The fact is, no matter how you spin it, the city itself has said that it will remain insolvent. Do you want to dispute that? Are you aware of something tat no one else - not even the city's financial department is aware of?

      The rest of you comments have to do with individual convention bookers - who cares? How does that speak to the financial health of our center, and the taxpayers' obligation to it? No matter how many conventions were blessed with record attendance, the facts remain - the center is projected to be insolvent indefinitely, and the fund balance will run out leaving general fund tax dollars to fund it.

      This project was promoted as being the great economic savior for our downtown economy, and it is a complete fiscal disaster as far as taxpayers' obligation to it. I am willing to be patient with my analysis. And we will see where you are in the coming 1-2 years. It will not ever be self-sustaining - and then there will be some bond proposed or some other kind of taxpayer bailout. Watch and see.

      There is simply nothing more I can say on this matter.

    11. Nevermore see remarks below.

  2. Sounds like it is turning out to be a good investment for Winston Salem, especially when you know the whole story. There are several articles that have been published by the Winston Salem Journal and others telling of the success of the new stadium.
    They are also managed by Mandalay sports. The same team who wants to manage the stadium if its built in Wilmington.
    Winston Salem Dash Stadium also has to compete for patrons from close by stadiums in Greensboro, Burlington, Kannapolis, Hickory, High Point, all within an 30 minutes to an hours drive.
    Wilmington's only close competition for a baseball stadium would be in Myrtle Beach an hour and a half away.

  3. who goes to the beach at night? that seems weird.. Bring on BASEBALL!

  4. Anonymous,

    You're using numbers in your responses, which means you're either one of the most educated leftists in the area or somehow involved with city politics. In either case, I'm glad to talk to you, although I typically haven't responded to comments, mostly for a lack of time.

    Ok, here are some facts and figures why a publicly-funded baseball stadium would be a bad idea. Tell me, why should Wilmington be the one city to buck the trend?

    "Local businesses tend to be largely unaffected [by the stadium], Rosentraub has found, because teams attempt to control almost all of their fans' entertainment spending, including shopping and dining. This leaves little room for the promised spillover growth around the stadium."

    "Looking at the economic performance of 37 cities between 1969 and 1996, they found 'the presence of pro sports teams had a statistically significant negative impact on the level of real per capita income.'"

    "The presence of pro sports teams had a statistically significant negative impact on the retail and services sectors of the local economy. The average effect on employment in the services sector of a city’s economy was a net loss of 1,924 jobs as a result of the presence of a professional sports team."

    As far as the convention center is concerned, all you have to do is look in the budget to see it lost money. The convention center fund balance is down this year. Again, it has millions in debt service for this year alone. Again, you could say we could be the one city to buck the trend, but I would ask you: why?

  5. @Anonymous,

    I saw your post, but I'm not sure where it is here. You mentioned "the answer is simple: we wouldn't be the only one."

    Firstly, you are leftist because you want this investment to come from the public instead of the private sector. Extend your logic for what make this acceptable. Could the government not take over any sector of the economy?

    Secondly, again, a simple Google search defeats the pro-taxpayer stadium argument. Here is a more recent response to the already 7-year-old article you linked to:

    "While both Nelson and Santo conclude that downtown stadiums have beneficial impacts on their cities, few economists are convinced by their results. In both instances, demonstrating that a downtown stadium raises the share of state or region income that accrues downtown may be evidence that a sports facility redistributes income away from the rest of a state or region and concentrates it in the downtown area of a major city.

    Those who find no economic impact of franchises and stadiums in the local economy argue that one explanation for those results is the redistribution of spending and income.

    Both Santo (2005) and Austrian and Rosentraub (2002) indicate that pure redistribution effects from stadiums and arenas are, or should be, acceptable from a public policy perspective if the stadium or arena induces or enhances redevelopment of an area that needs redevelopment. They suggest, in fact, that the emphasis on improvements in general economic well-being from stadiums and arenas should be replaced by this redistributive focus despite the unclear welfare implications.

    In addition, these studies suffer from methodological problems. First, identifying “downtown” and “suburban” sports facilities involves a great deal of researcher discretion, as the US Bureau of Economic analysis ceased identifying the Central Business District in US cities in the early 1980s. Second, Coates and Humphreys (1999) pointed out the econometric problems inherent in transforming the dependent variable, rather than using additional control variables, to account for the presence of unobservable factors in reduced form models of local income or employment determination."

  6. Talk about recent facts, figures, and real world testimonials... I hope our friend "Anonymous" would take the time to check out: (good website in general for all things concerning stadiums and their financing)

    For every "success" stroy out there that you say we "could become" - I can and will counter with every disaster:

    And again...

    Here's how hardcore-leftist magazine "The Progressive" sees it...

    And the cherry on top - a mountain of research proving my point:

  7. @Anonymous,

    You say we're afraid of the facts, then you don't address the study that I just posted, which contradicts your own and reasserts that the consensus within the economic community is still that publicly-funded stadiums do not produce growth.

    I'm glad that you cite Moody's, the same Moody's that called AIG AAA, right? Moody's has or, at least had in 2010, Chicago at AA. The same Chicago that had to shut down public operations for a few days because they couldn't afford it. Moody's is "respected" because in 1975 they got a government granted monopoly along with a few other ratings agencies, that said institutional investors could only buy things that had been given at least a certain rating by ONLY THOSE agencies. It's not because they do such a great job.

    Also, our fund balance is not that high anymore and we have a $13M gap in the budget that needs to be made up. With this stadium, it'd be, what? 55M? More?

    Look, look up any study, you'll see one of the most important factor in any city's growth/health is a low tax burden. This will drastically increase ours.

    1. Ben, Ben, Ben....we have finally reached the inevitable and entirely predictable conclusion to our little discussion. The meter in your credibility tank has reached empty....

      You contradict and dispute Moody's analysis of our fiscal situation and their conclusions that Wilmington's "financial position remains strong". You even offer up your conclusions of our path towards bankruptcy. You attack Moody's credibility in an effort to disguise your own complete lack of qualifications to offer an informed, competent judgement.

      Moody's has been an industry leader for over 100 years. In addition to their ratings business, Moody's generates revenues in excess of $700 million annually serving thousands of institutions, representing millions of investors in over 100 countries by offering risk management, investor research, credit data and analytical tools. These institutions represent the most sophisticated investors in the addition,Warren Buffet, considered one of the greatest investors in the history of the world, is their largest shareholder with a stake currently valued in excess of $1 Billion.

      So in one corner we have Moody's, over 100 years of experience, advisor to Warren Buffet and the most sophisticated and successful investors in the world. In the other corner, we have......well we have Ben, political blogger and creative design guy.

      Your political agenda and ambitions are transparent, but even here, you're on the wrong side. You should take heed of visionary leaders whose political careers soared after
      leading the efforts to revitalize and energize their communities. John Hickenlooper, prominent figure in bringing Coors Field to a then dilapidated, rundown downtown area LoDo in Denver while a restaurant owner, then Mayor, now Governor.

      Phil Bredesen, mayor of Nashville leading the effort to build a new stadium on the riverfront in downtown Nashville and invest that re-energized and transformed the central business district, after which he became two term Governor.

      Michael Coleman, president of city council in Columbus and visionary leader at the time of the city's efforts to to invest and re-develop an abandoned site in downtown Columbus. The staggering success of the Arena District is now a model for downtown investment and revitalization efforts and no doubt boosted now Mayor Coleman's political fortunes...with his re-election he has become Columbus' longest serving Mayor.

      Much can be learned from the successes of others, economic and political successes. Ben, you're on the wrong side of this one......leaders need vision. We have one. It is available, imminent and doable. You're offering nothing. Nothing does not help to secure a more prosperous future for Wilmington....

      Get the facts, see the vision....
      Downtown Stadium, Wilmington, NC on Facebook

    2. Consider this my final reply, as I am done being condescended and insulted with your arrogant snobbery on my own blog. My opinion of Moody's is not simply something I came up with - they as well as other financial position reporting firms that analyze governments have been under fire as of late for over valuing and understating financial crises of governments.

      "You attack Moody's credibility in an effort to disguise your own complete lack of qualifications to offer an informed, competent judgement." Perhaps you would like to extend that description to The Duke Kenan School of Business, which published an exhaustive report on this exact subject - but please, don't let facts get in the way of your intellectual superiority complex:

      I'm not on the wrong side of anything pal. My position is clear - if a baseball stadium is such a magnificent economic savior that will somehow make all of our financial and economic troubles blow away like the dust swept off of home plate, then you build it. Find some like-minded investors and developers. Encourage the private sector to step up. The CEO of Mandalay Baseball, Peter Gruber, is worth about $400 million - if they are promising such an incredible return on investment and wonderful opportunity, seems like only $40 million would be a drop in the bucket for such a great investment. Why won't he kick in the cash? Obviously, he's a savvy businessman, and I guarantee you that if someone proposed an incredibly strong investment opportunity to him or someone like him, with an extremely huge possibility of massive return, he wouldn't think twice about investing. That's how people that rich stay that rich and get richer still - smart investments and wise financial decisions. But on this - no way. He would rather go through all of the government red tape, citizen resistance, and huge amounts of time necessary to secure a deal with the local government because in the end, he will have his stadium, and the taxpayers are stuck with the risk. The risk is what concerns him - and who would know better? This guy makes his living in this industry, and I would say that by him NOT investing his own money into this "wonderful opportunity" is a telling indicator of its potential return.

      I am not against a stadium of any kind - I am against the private sector talking to government and saying, "well we know that there is no way of this thing working privately - no chance of making money, so you have to pay for it with other people's money to spread the risk around - and for your trouble, you get the benefit of telling people you are associated with the Braves, and we'll even dust off Bobby Cox from time to time and have him wave his old hat to the crowd once a year."

      And on top of that, this particular deal is incredibly bad. Even if this thing succeeds by all metrics, Mandalay gets 100% of all revenue streams - that was made clear with a rare point blank response at the city council meeting on Feb. 7th, and even shocked Laura Padgett, and gave her serious pause about this whole thing. For someone like Padgett, who has never balked at excessively spending other people's money, to have serious concerns about taxpayers paying for this, should open some eyes about its future, and our tying ourselves to it for the duration.

      Your only argument that you keep promoting with your signature holier-than-thou condescension, is the wonder of stadiums, and how bad you want one. Your positions do nothing to convince anyone that taxpayers should fund it. And that is where my concerns begin and end. Let Mandalay pay for it, build it, operate, and collect the money. I hope they make a billion dollars a year with it - I will celebrate their success right with them - but we all know it's a money loser - and that is exactly why we are being tentatively forced to fund it.

    3. I didn't see the part in the Duke study where they supported your claim that Wilmington was on the path to bankruptcy, nor did they rebut Moody's conclusion that "the city's financial position remains strong" and "effective financial management" and "budget reserves that still provide an adequate cushion" are among our strengths. My intent was not to compare Moody's to perfection - they are not - but rather to compare Moody's to Ben.

      In this case each are offering opinions with dramatically different conclusions. It was not my intent to be condescending nor insulting but rather to honestly and factually inform potential investors of the stark contrast in qualifications and experience between the two options. It's clear by your reaction that the distinction was clear and sincere apologies if you perceived my efforts as condescending. On the contrary, I find you to be quite energetic with a passion for your opinions though I do believe that you could be far more effective by refraining from often resorting to a combative and insulting style.... but that's just my opinion....

      The debate is much too important for our city to debase and short-circuit a healthy discussion with personal attacks and insults. I will leave that to others if they are so inclined. The city deserves for both sides to be fully engaged in a productive, fact-based dialogue....with that I will close.

      Get the facts, see the vision....
      Downtown Stadium, Wilmington, NC on Facebook

  8. @Anonymous,

    Once again you ignore the full picture to only give the narrow glimpse that supports your interpretation. I don't know if this is done deliberately or through ignorance, but neither one is acceptable.

    You say parking deck revenues go into the convention center fund. That's true. And this year operating costs virtually equaled revenues. Revenues were only a few thousand higher.

    Revenues from rentals go into the convention center fund. You're absolutely right. Now let's take the final step and see whether the convention center brought in money or lost money this year. (PS You can't view the savings in the convention center fund as revenue, it's savings and we're dipping into it.)

    The bottom line is that the convention center fund went from $14M last year to $11M this year. Why is that? BECAUSE IT COST MORE TO OPERATE THAN IT BROUGHT IN. How much clearer can it be?

    You mention this year is predicted to be better. Let me just say this: I'll believe it when I see it.

    Oh, and "The main reason conventions decline to come here is lack of a hotel." - Welcome to fantasy land.

    Do you think people actually say this: "You know, I would love to have a convention in Wilmington, but there's not a hotel directly across the street. We might actually have to walk a full minute to get there."

    Give me a break.

    Also, the city's own models showed the convention center running in the red after 2020 EVEN WITH a hotel, until they conveniently changed them.

  9. @nevermore & @ Publifus
    Nevermore, you say "the fact is universally, hotels that are attached to convention centers are what people are drawn to when they attend conventions". Please tell your friend 'Publifus' that fact he disagrees with you. I agree with you on this fact. Thats why I believe the attached hotel that is close to being finalized to be built and the one directly across the street being built will help the convention center draw larger conventions. It is a fact reported by more then one media source and the managing company of the convention center that several conventions have declined to come here because there is no hotel attached.
    The hotels I mentioned aren't being built several blocks away.
    One is literally across the street, the other is 4 blocks away.
    You two seem to disagree on the facts of hotels.
    Yes I know the convention center is not self sustaining yet, but I believe eventual it will be, you say it will be in the red, we'll have to wait and see on that point. BUT The fact remains TAX PAYERS ARE NOT ARE NOT PAYING for the convention center.

    thank you for being civilized about the conversation.

    You're accusing me of taking a narrow glimpse?!, all you see a dark miserable world where nothing works unless it plays by your rules. Open up your mind a little, TRY TO have a positive vision of the future.
    Stop being so arrogant by calling people ignorant and if they disagree with your opinion "unacceptable".


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