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Tempers flaring over Tuesday's baseball stadium vote in Triad
Associated Press

GREENSBORO (May 3, 1998 - 13:56 EDT) -- In Forsyth and Guilford counties, it won't be a political candidate who gets the most attention on primary Tuesday.

Voters there will decide whether to spend tax dollars to build a stadium for a major league baseball stadium. Just a day before the election, the stadium battle had reached a pitch rarely seen in races for political office.

The proposal on the ballot calls for levying a tax of one cent on the dollar on prepared foods and a 50-cent tax on stadium tickets to pay no more than two-thirds of the cost of a stadium.

Based on the unusually large number of absentee ballots cast by Friday, officials in the two counties said they expect a turnout of more than 30 percent of registered voters Tuesday, rather than the 15 to 20 percent that is usual for a primary election.

"Obviously it's not the primary (driving the high absentee vote) -- it's baseball," said George Gilbert, Guilford County's elections director.

Anger boiled over into a verbal confrontation between opponents and supporters Saturday at an informational meeting at the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market for an informational event sponsored by the League of Women Voters.

Volunteers from both Vote Yes for Major League Baseball and Citizens Against Unfair Taxes attended the event.

The event turned heated as the event began to wind down. A group of residents who live in an area where the stadium, if approved, may be built, crowded around Vote Yes campaign director Walt Klein, firing questions.

"You're not going to be where the crime is at," shouted Tom Durham, a resident of the area. "You're not going to be where the traffic is at. ... The damn government does not have the right to come in here and tell us what to do.

Klein said such exchanges have not been typical during the Triad's most hotly debated issue in years.

"It's unfortunate because it's not reflective of the thoughtful questions that all kinds of people I have talked to over the past six or eight months have asked about the Major League Baseball proposal," Klein said.

Karen Michailo of Citizens Against Unfair Taxes said she regretted but understood the incident.

"It's unfortunate that tempers got a little out of hand, but I guess if it were my property and land, I might get that way, too," Michailo said.