If a minor league baseball team does land in Leland, financing for the stadium complex and related improvements will not come from a bond issue or an increase in local taxes.
That was an early and up-front message from three spokesmen as the entities involved shared project details at an event for the media Tuesday at the Leland Cultural Arts Center.
Speaking about the proposed mixed-use sports and entertainment complex that would be home to the minor league operation were Sean Decker, president of REV Entertainment; Haynes Brigman, Brunswick County’s deputy county manager; and Gary Vidmar, economic and community development director for the town of Leland. REV Entertainment, based in Arlington, Texas, is the management partner for a variety of sports teams including the Texas Rangers.
Early plans call for a 3,500-seat stadium with parking, a convention center and a hotel. The development would also contain retail, restaurant and office space. After giving a project overview, the three answered questions about the proposed site, the project’s anticipated funding and its projected impact on the community and the county.
“One decision we’ve made: we want to fund the project without using tax dollars,” Brigman said, explaining that officials believe that revenues generated by the complex would be sufficient for Leland’s and Brunswick County’s share of expenses. “There will be no bond issue and no tax increase.”
“We’ll match money from the town and county dollar for dollar,” Decker added.
REV Entertainment, Brunswick County and the town of Leland are moving ahead on two fronts: the local governments have commissioned a project feasibility study and economic impact analysis from business services firm Baker Tilly. REV has given the go-ahead to its chosen architectural and engineering partner, JPR, to flesh out detailed plans for the development. The impact analysis would look at the economic ripple effect of having a major commercial and entertainment complex on the site, as well as infrastructure needs to handle increased traffic and utilities demands.
If studies indicate that the minor league project is feasible, the next step would be to issue contracts for the work, Decker said. A reasonable estimate would be a 24-month construction period, with an opening day in 2026, although it could be sooner, he added.
Early reports had it that the minor league team would be a Texas Rangers franchise. Decker said Tuesday that initially the Leland team would likely be an independent Single-A team, but could affiliate with the Texas Rangers in the future. REV already owns two Rangers minor league teams in North Carolina: the High-A Hickory Crawdads and the Kinston-based Down East Wood Ducks, a Single-A team.
While the proposed 1,400-acre site, owned by Jackeys Creek Investors LLC, is currently outside the Leland town limits, Vidmar said the developer will petition for annexation of the property (the complex itself would span about 25 acres
“That’s why Leland is involved at this point,” he added. “Both Leland and Brunswick County would derive revenues from the development.”
Brunswick County, as the taxing authority, “must be involved,” Brigman said.
After the media event, the hall was opened to members of the public who wanted an opportunity to hear a project update from Decker, Brigman and Vidmar.
Information is available on a website maintained by REV Entertainment: www.brunswickcountybaseball.com
Correction: This article has been updated to correct the complex's planned size.