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Baseball for Downtown Wilson

City of Wilson-Baseball stadium will host minor league team in downtown Wilson

Play ball! City Council commits to stadium complex

Minor League baseball could start play in April 2026 in a new $63.6 million stadium next to the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park, approved Thursday by the Wilson City Council.

Council voted unanimously to enter a partnership to build a new downtown sports entertainment complex that would potentially include a 100-room hotel, multifamily housing and new commercial development. The entire project is expected to be valued at more than $280 million.

City Manager Grant Goings said the Milwaukee Brewers are committing to relocating the Single-A Carolina Mudcats from Zebulon and signing a 25-year lease. The Brewers had representatives at Thursday's meeting.

City Council and city officials talked about the "transformative" nature of the development, comparing it to the city's investment in Buckhorn Reservoir or Greenlight.

Here are some of the highlights of the deal, many revealed during a nearly two-hour hearing:

Who are the partners? The City of Wilson would own what's temporarily being called WiSE (Wilson Sports & Entertainment) Park. The stadium is estimated to cost more than $63 million, plus $7.5 million for infrastructure improvements and nearly $5 million for land purchases.

New South Ventures Wilson, LLC, would both oversee the stadium construction and invest $212 million of its own money in building other parts of the complex, including a 100-bed hotel and multifamily housing. NSV has been the city’s partner in the Pine-Nash Development, which transformed the former site of the BB&T Towers into the city’s new parking deck, the Foundation YMCA, and the Centro retail-apartment complex that will begin to open next month.

The Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club, which is part of Major League Baseball, would relocate its Carolina Mudcats Single-A team from Five County Stadium near Zebulon. The team would have offices in the stadium, and players would come from the Brewers' farm system.

When would it happen? The city will submit its financing package for the N.C. Local Government Commission's approval in early 2024. NSV said site work would begin by April and the stadium would be completed by February 2026. The goal would be for the team to start play in April 2026, although there's a chance it could be April 2027. A decision would be made next spring if 2026 is realistic.

What would the baseball be like? The Mudcats play in the Carolina League, which has 12 teams spanning from Augusta, Ga., to Salisbury, Md., and the Single-A affiliates of the Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs and nine other Major League teams. They play 132 games in a season from April through September so downtown Wilson would host around 66 games a year. It would be a chance to see many future MLB stars as rookies.

What about when there's no baseball? The stadium could be used for concerts and other events. The city could host college or other tournaments.

How will the city pay for this? The city will be issuing nearly $70 million in low-interest, tax-exempt bonds. It also would pursue $7 million in grants to assist with infrastructure costs.

CFO Amy Staton showed Council a breakdown of new revenues that the project will create. The Mudcats will be locked into paying rent for 25 years, plus the surrounding development will bring in thousands in new property taxes. All those new residents will create sales tax revenues. Visiting baseball fans will spend money and book hotel rooms.

What will be the impact on property taxes? The County property tax revaluation will determine exactly what property tax increase we will need for the project. We will receive the revaluation estimate in early 2024. Our best estimate is 2 cents per $100 valuation, which equates to an additional $20 per year for each $100,000 valuation of real property. That increase could take effect in July 2024.

You can see all of the presentations made to City Council on

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