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N.C. Poll: Ballpark Tax Unpopular
New Newspaper Poll Shows Voters Still Opposed To Financing Plan, 2-To-1

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., Posted 11:24 a.m. March 27, 1998 -- The margin has narrowed since December, but six weeks before voters decide whether to use tax dollars to build a major league ballpark, the proposal still trails almost 2-to-1. Voters in the Triad area of Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem were asked this week whether they support the proposal for a 1 percent tax on prepared foods and a 50-cent tax on tickets to help pay for a stadium. Sixty-one percent of voters surveyed in Forsyth and Guilford counties said they oppose the plan, and 31 percent said they support it. Another 8 percent said they were undecided.

Glenn Hicks, 74, a retired truck driver for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in Winston-Salem, summed up the prevailing sentiment.

"I'm against it all the way," he said. "Why should we build something with our tax money so somebody else can make the money off it? Why should I pay more to go out to eat, on a fixed income?"

Voters in the two counties will decide May 5 whether to put up $140 million to pay two-thirds of the cost of a stadium on the county line. The taxes would be used to pay off stadium bonds over the next 25 years. The remaining $70 million for the stadium would come from an ownership group headed by nursing-home executive Don Beaver, who is negotiating to buy the Minnesota Twins and move the team to North Carolina.

Walt Klein, an advertising consultant from Winston-Salem who is running the Vote Yes for Major-League Baseball campaign, said that the poll published by the Winston-Salem Journal represents progress.

A similar poll by the paper in December found 71 percent opposed and just 20 percent in favor, so Klein said he was pleased that the margin has closed.

The latest poll of 428 respondents was conducted by telephone from Sunday through Wednesday. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.