Local News

Time Will Tell if Voters Support Stadium Tax

Posted May 4, 1998

— Only two counties will get to vote, but the results of the race will impact the entire state. At issue-- raising taxes to bring major league ball to the Tar Heel state.

The Durham Bulls AAA baseball team is the best North Carolina has to offer spectators, for now. There's a chance major league baseball could also call North Carolina home. The more votes on a stadium tax proposal Tuesday, the better the opportunity becomes. The latest polls shows growing support for the tax.

"We're running neck and neck," says Walt Klein, a stadium tax supporter. "That's a long ways from the 30-40 points down, which was reported just four or five weeks ago."

Supporters of the stadium straddling the Guilford and Forsyth County line have a $700,000 campaign backing them up. Stadium tax opponents have a grassroots campaign with a budget 20 times smaller. Their biggest weapon is the stadium tax itself-- 1% tax on prepared food and $.50 on tickets.

"It's not just pennies," Karen Michailo explains. "It's a million dollars a month for 25 years, and that's just to get them into the stadium."

The advertising executive trying to get the Minnesota Twins here also manned the campaign that got the Colorado Rockies to Denver. He believes there will be a similar outcome.

"The polls show the issue is going to fail 2-1 a month before the election," Klein says. "The press was negative all the way up to election day. But on election day, 54% of the people who showed up voted yes, 46%-- no."

Opponents realize that they could lose by a small margin or win by very big margin-- or anything in between.

Of course, if the stadium is approved, it would be built in between Guilford and Forsyth Counties. Supporters and opponents have posted signs on both ends of the spectrum, everything from "Major League Baseball; Vote Yes May 5th" to "Vote No. Food Taxes Bite."

Supporters say the Twins would bring more than baseball to the Triad. They say the team would also bring 3,100 new jobs to town. It would also attract new business to the area. However, opponents say it isn't fair to make everyone pay for something not everyone will use. They also want to know exactly what kind of jobs will be created.

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