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Wake County Commissioners Go to Bat for Carolina Mudcats

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ZEBULON — The Wake County Commissioners went to bat for the Carolina Mudcats Wednesday and they hit a home run. The Commissioners voted 6-1 to provide $10 million to renovate Five County Stadium in Zebulon.

"It's something that we absolutely needed to do," Wake County Commissioner Vernon Malone said. "It's something that we committed to do a long time ago, and has been procrastinated over since 1992."

Before the vote, the Carolina Mudcats had been facing a difficult task. They needed a $15 million renovation or they could have lost its affiliation with the Pittsburgh Pirates. That loss would have caused the team to move from Zebulon, an alternative the town did not want.

"[The Mudcats] have spurred the economic growth of Zebulon and for Wake County," Zebulon Mayor Bob Metheny said.

"We have a wonderful facility like it is now, but I think we can have a more wonderful facility," Zebulon resident Debbie Privette said. "I just appreciate Wake County taking time to look at the situation, and making a good decision."

The Wake County Commissioners refused to play hard ball with the Raleigh City Council, which voted against helping the Mudcats if the County relied on money from the restaurant tax.

"This is the first official vote that says, 'We're glad you're here, you're an asset, let's finish this thing and move forward, and go first class,'" Mudcats President Steve Bryant said.

Currently, Five County Stadium seats 6,000 people. Half of those seats are metal bleachers. The renovation plan is broken down into two steps over the next two years.

The first phase of construction will be completed in 1999. The capacity will be below 4,000, but all of the seats will have backs. By 2000, there will be 6,011 seats, all with backs. Bathrooms and concessions will become part of the grandstand.

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Kelly Wright, Reporter
Ron Pittman, Photographer
Jason Darwin, Web Editor

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