NLR Voters Approve Ballpark Tax

by Gwen Moritz and Lance Turner  on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2005 8:49 pm  

North Little Rock voters have approved the 2-year, 1 percent sales tax to raise money for a new ballpark for the state's Class AA minor league baseball team, the Arkansas Travelers.

North Little Rock city officials declared victory Tuesday night with 17 of 19 precincts reporting results. The results, including absentee and early voting, were:

For: 4,008
Against: 3,200

Officials were still awaiting results from two precincts but were confident the results would not change the outcome.

At a watch party at the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, long-time Travelers General Manager Bill Valentine shed tears and thanked those who worked to plan the new ballpark and pass the tax, which takes effect Oct. 1 and ends on Sept. 30, 2007.

The vote raises the city's sales tax to 9 percent and will bring in $32 million, most of it for a new ballpark for the Arkansas Travelers baseball team. About $5 million in tax revenue will go toward improvements on the city's popular recreational and educational center for seniors.

Last month, Terry Hartwick, president of the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, told Arkansas Business he expected to need about 4,000 votes to pass the tax.

"Generally you get about 7,500 out for a special election," Hartwick said. "That would mean we need just about 4,000 votes. I've heard from a lot of people in the business community who are on board, and along with those who favor the senior center, we should be able to get this through."

A deal between the Travelers and city officials has the ball club controlling the profits from gate receipts, concessions, stadium advertising and sky box rentals for use to operate the stadium. The remaining revenue will be split evenly between the city and the Travelers, while the Texas League squad is guaranteed a 20-year lease with two successive five-year options.

The Travelers tentatively agreed to move to the new North Little Rock riverfront location in October after Little Rock financier Warren Stephens and the city each donated 11 acres of land to the project.

Stephens and North Little Rock envisioned a 22-acre complex including the stadium and retail developments. The site, which sits near the Arkansas River and east of the Broadway Bridge near downtown North Little Rock, was also considered as possible sites for Alltel Arena and the Clinton Presidential Library.

More on the Stadium
• Click here to see artist renderings of the stadium.
NLR Voters Step Up to Plate
Travelers, North Little Rock Reach Ballpark Deal
North Little Rock, Travelers Still Debating New Ballpark
North Little Rock, Stephens Plan $25 Million Park for Travelers
Is Downtown Ballpark Just A Dream?
Warren Stephens Steps Out: CEO is Newsmaker of the Year
Dream of Downtown Ballpark No Closer to Reality



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