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Voters reject baseball tax in heavy turnout
by Tom Steadman

There was little joy in Mudville, or in Winston-Salem or Greensboro, for that matter Tuesday night. The Triad's baseball referendum -- touted as the area's best chance to land a Major League Baseball franchise -- had struck out with the voters.

Within three hours of the polls closing, votes were nearly all counted in both counties, and the news was bad for baseball backers. Of the 83,392 persons casting votes in Guilford, 67 percent were against the tax; only 33 percent were in favor.

"This vote means baseball won't be coming to the Triad area," said Don Beaver, the Hickory businessman who is trying to bring baseball to North Carolina as a team owner.

"For me, that's very sad," Beaver said. "We're going to keep our eyes on the main objectives, which is to get Major League Baseball in North Carolina."

But the issue drew 32 percent of the county's 260,000 registered votes, a strong turnout for a primary election.

Opponents of the baseball tax were jubilant Tuesday night.

"I think it was the most remarkable day in that little people, little old ladies and young people, black and white, people of all educational backgrounds, silently protested what they considered an unfair use of tax money," said 66-year-old Edie Jones of Greensboro. She had volunteered to campaign against the tax, making about 200 phone calls during the past week.

"The one prevailing thing is, 'Why should we support rich people?'" she asked. "If they want to play ball, why should we pay for it?"

In Forsyth County, with 101 of 102 precincts counted, the baseball referendum lost 59 percent to 41 percent.

To win approval, a majority of voters in both counties would have had to have agreed to the 1 percent prepared-foods tax on all meals served in restaurants and a 50-cent tax on baseball tickets.