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Biloxi council to consider new baseball stadium construction contract Tuesday

BILOXI, Mississippi — The Biloxi City Council will consider a construction contract Tuesday with W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Co. to construct the downtown baseball stadium and entertainment venue for a negotiated price of $29.13 million. City officials said Friday that the city has brought the price of MGM Park at Beau Rivage close enough in range to the available funding and is ready to move forward with the next phase of construction.

The lowest previous bid opened last week was $5 million over budget.

Chief Administrative Officer David Nichols said the city took advantage of cost-cutting options to reduce the contract, which should see a stadium complete in late July or August.

The season begins in early April, meaning the Double-A Southern League team that is moving from Huntsville, Ala., will have to find another place to play until the stadium opens. Reports last week in the Huntsville Times indicated that the team still has a year remaining on its lease on Joe Davis Stadium, and the team has not given official notice to the city that it is moving to Biloxi. The season usually ends the first weekend in September.

“There’s been a great deal of work to bring this price in line with the available funding, and we’re comfortable with moving forward,” Nichols said of the agreement.

Currently, the two funding sources for the project – budgeted at $36 million — are $21 million from the city and $15 million from the state, through a grant from BP. About $9 million has been spent in and around the site, but Nichols said about $2 million of that work is part of the city’s post-Katrina infrastructure work and FEMA-reimbursable.

“At the same time, we’ve worked with the architect and contractor on ‘value engineering,’ which is a process where we can trim costs along the way,” Nichols said. “We’re also taking advantage of the 12-month contract, which means we may face penalties for missing some home games.”

Although the project still includes a 350-space parking garage to be used primarily by Beau Rivage employees, the Yates contract does not include an overhead walkway that would have connected the parking garage to the south side of U.S. 90.

Said Nichols: “We just don’t have the funding for that, and we’re going to be looking for funding sources or sponsorships for other amenities, such as signage and a high-density scoreboard.

“One thing that we have done is made it clear to the contractor that we don’t have any flexibility in this contract. We’re ready to get started.”

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