JACKSON, Mississippi — The City of Jackson, Jackson State University and Tim Bennett, owner of Overtime Sports, may begin talks in the next few weeks on the feasibility of building a baseball stadium for JSU in the Historic Farish Street District.
“This is just in the observation stages,” said Bennett, who was the force behind moving the Mississippi Braves to Pearl 10 years ago and moving the Huntsville Stars to Biloxi for next season.
“We’re taking a look at the potential for a stadium. The next step is to sit down with the mayor (Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber) and discuss entering into an agreement to do feasibility and economic impact stories.”
“Jackson State is agreeable to taking a look at this opportunity, but there are no firm commitments in place.”
The Jackson State baseball program won the SWAC Championship this year and participated in the Division I post-season, which included a victory over highly regarded Louisiana Lafayette.
The Tigers’ stadium was built in 2006 and seats about 800 in bleacher seats.
“The primary interest is getting Jackson State a facility that has locker rooms, a clubhouse, concessions, chairback seating that it needs as a Division I program,” said Bennett. “I know they don’t really have anything of substance now – no fixed seating, no seating for the a pressbox, or bathroom facilities.”
By building the stadium in the Farish Street District, it would be available for concerts and other events.
“Most developments now are multi-event facilities,” said Bennett. “JSU would be the main tenant, but we’d naturally go after regional and national tournaments. There also are a lot of underprivileged youths in downtown Jackson area who would be able to use it, too.”
Bennett said any new stadium would not compete with the Mississippi Braves in Pearl.
“This will not be a minor league facility,” said Bennett. “This is totally separate and has nothing to do with the Braves.
“The idea is to promote downtown business and growth. You see what happened in Pearl when they built a stadium. I feel strongly that building on for JSU would provide a catalyst.”
Bennett tried to build a downtown stadium before the Trustmark Park was built in Pearl, but the city administration showed little interest.
“Talking with the administrations at the city and Jackson State has been a breath of fresh air,” said Bennett. They’re open to the idea. They are optimistic groups.”