WILMINGTON -- Salesianum School announced today it has withdrawn its proposed lease agreement and $20 million investment in Baynard Stadium following a meeting of the City's Education, Youth and Families Committee meeting on Monday.
Officials from the City of Wilmington, citing a review that revealed some "deep community concerns about the current and future use of the stadium by community-based youth teams," said they will continue to look for funding for renovation of the stadium and have launched a task force for further study.
Under the drafted agreement between the City of Wilmington and Salesianum School, Salesianum would invest $20 million in needed upgrades to the stadium, which officials said would act as an economic driver to the area as a complex with the capacity to host sporting events through market-rate rentals to local and regional club teams.
But at Monday's meeting, city representatives suggested that renovations to the stadium should be funded by tax payer dollars instead, according to a statement released by Salesianum School Tuesday afternoon.
"Accordingly, Salesianum is withdrawing our proposal to invest $20 million in Baynard Stadium so as not to serve as a distraction to the city's task force now charged with identifying public funds for the stadium," wrote Salesianum officials.
Salesianum officials said while the school remains committed to the City of Wilmington, its withdrawal is "reflective of a reality that Salesianum was providing resources to the City through charitable gifts."
"With substantial funds already committed, the current political environment, and the uncertainty that it brings, jeopardizes our ability to credibly raise funds and properly steward the gifts of those who have already committed."
The drafted agreement between Salesianum and the City of Wilmington was aimed at creating a first-class facility, including renovations to the bleachers, the track, locker rooms and bathrooms.
In a written statement released Tuesday, City Council President Theo Gregory and Council President-elect Hanifa Shabazz expressed their appreciation to Salesianum School, and said the review process was intended to allow for a full community review of the proposed lease between the City and the school.
They noted that the issues surrounding community use of the stadium and the cost to use the stadium will have to be dealt with regardless of the when the renovation funding issues are resolved, according to the statement.
The review process is in the hands of Representative Charles Potter, who has said that he will be able to find funding from the State for the renovation of the stadium and also ensure that community needs are met for its future use.
“We look forward to assisting Representative Potter and whatever form of a task force he is able to assemble to find future funding for the stadium which is in dire need of renovations,” said Gregory. “The Representative and others were clear in their position that more study was needed and now we have every opportunity to study the issue without delay and find the funding before the stadium’s structural problems worsen,” said Shabazz.