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Biloxi group trying to force vote on proposed baseball stadium

The STEPS Coalition is in the process of attempting to gather signatures of 1,500 registered voters to possibly force a public vote on the proposed minor league stadium in Biloxi.

baseball pic“So many of us here are baseball fans,” Roberta Avila, executive director of the STEPS Coalition, told the Sun-Herald at a news conference last Tuesday. But she said the group wants a public hearing to address the pros and cons of the stadium and a special election to determine if the public supports the bond.

Vincent Creel, public affairs manager for the City of Biloxi, said a special election could cause a 90-day delay in stadium construction. The stadium plan calls for it to be completed in April for the 2014 season.

WLOX-TV said it has learned an investor has committed to spend $14.5 million to purchase a team and move it to Biloxi, as long as the stadium is ready for the start of the 2014 season. The Double-A minor league would compete in the Southern League.

The stadium is planned for the intersection of U.S. 90 and Interstate 110, on land leased free to the city by Beau Rivage Resort and Casino. The land is an employee parking lot across the street from Beau Rivage casino. The city plans to borrow $21 million, and the state is pitching in $15 million in BP oil spill settlement money to pay for the stadium.

Biloxi attorney Ron Peresich, who is consulting the city on the baseball deal, told WLOX a forced-vote could likely kill the deal.

Creel also said the council will consider a measure to add the stadium project to its Urban Renewal Plan. “This just gives us more flexibility about adjoining developments on the same site,” Creel said.

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