(AP) WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (AP)
-- Dreams of luring major league baseball to the Triad were shattered Tuesday
when voters in two North Carolina counties overwhelmingly rejected a tax
proposal to help build a $210 million stadium.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting in Guilford County, opponents
had 55,732 votes -- or 67 percent -- to 27,180 votes -- or 33 percent --
for supporters of the initiative.
The same trend was true in neighboring Forsyth County. With all but
one of 99 precincts reporting, opponents had 39,605 votes -- or 59 percent
-- to 27,483 votes -- or 41 percent -- for supporters.
"It looks like a slam dunk," said Ken Conrad of Citizens Against
Unfair Taxes, borrowing a cliche from another sport. "We didn't have
rain and we fared well with a record turnout."
Conrad said voters understood his group's argument that one business
should not be taxed to support another business, in this case professional
"I'm a progressive person and I want to see my community grow,
but not full speed ahead at any cost," he said. "We have a lot
of problems with our schools, roads and other things we need to fix."
"I'm particularly surprised the turnout in Guilford County was
so negative," he said by phone from a Greensboro hotel, where supporters
gathered to watch returns. "The people have spoken.
"But this is not going to dampen our spirits. We still think North
Carolina is an outstanding market."
Pressed if his next step would be to pursue the Charlotte market, Beaver
would not provide specifics.
"We're going to move ahead and look at our options," he said.
To win approval, a majority of voters in both counties had to agree
to the 1 percent prepared-foods tax on all meals served in restaurants
and a 50-cent tax on baseball tickets.
Strong interest in the initiative was reflected in the heavy voting
Tuesday. Turnout in both counties was much higher than in a typical primary
Supporters of major league baseball wanted to use the taxes to raise
$140 million in public funds, which would cover two-thirds of the cost
of the project.
The stadium would have been built on the Forsyth County-Guilford County
line if Beaver's group was successful in buying and relocating the Twins
to North Carolina.
Despite all the lingering doubts, the "Vote Yes for Major League
Baseball" campaign made the initiative's outcome uncertain in the
days leading up to the election.
Supporters won the spending race long before Tuesday's primary.
"Vote Yes for Major League Baseball" raised 28 times what
opponents collected. The group raised about $716,000, with half of it being
reserved for a last-minute TV and radio advertising blitz and a direct-mail
Citizens Against Unfair Taxes raised about $26,000. One of the group's
most memorable signs reads: "Vote No. Food Taxes Bite!"