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Consultant on baseball stadium: 'Existing businesses to benefit first'

BILOXI — A consultant hired by Biloxi to determine the economic impact of a minor league baseball stadium says the proposed site on U.S. 90 north of Beau Ravage Resort & Casino is a winner.

Charles Johnson IV of Johnson Consulting in Chicago said during yesterday’s report to the City Council he also can’t think of a place that needs this type of attraction more than downtown Biloxi.

He estimates the stadium will bring in $34 million a year from games, concerts and other events, or an average of $70 for every person who enters the stadium.

The Sun Herald reports he city paid $25,000 for the report, which Johnson said focused on whether a stadium would bring new business downtown and if existing businesses would do well.

“We expect existing businesses to benefit first,” he said, and the $34 million annual impact to be felt immediately.

The city will probably do even better than that the first year, he said, because of the “novelty effect.”

Asked to rate the site on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best, Johnson said he gives it “a 9 or 10.”

He compared the potential attendance with that of other teams in the Southern League and said, “You are far and away the leader from a tourism perspective.” He expects average attendance for baseball, but better than average for festivals and concerts.

Tim Bennett with Overtime Sports said he has worked for nine years to bring a minor league team to South Mississippi and the independent study confirmed what he has said — “that minor league baseball is everything I thought it could be for Biloxi.” He said wherever a stadium is built, traffic will be an issue.

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