Groups call for election on Biloxi baseball stadium

BILOXI — Groups including the STEPS Coalition and Biloxi NAACP chapter are calling for an election on a $21 million city-issued bond to help build a minor league baseball stadium in Biloxi.

They have until June 18 to collect 1,500 signatures on a petition.

City attorney Ron Peresich told city council members yesterday that an election could delay the project by 60 to 90 days. He said it could kill the deal. He said an owner’s group wants to start playing in April.

“The proposed new owner, who is buying the team and spending $14.5 million to bring it to Biloxi has made that part of the consideration. He wants it ready for next season,” Peresich said.

The city proposes to borrow $21 million by issuing bonds. Gov. Phil Bryant has pledged $15 million of BP money to the project.

“We either want professional baseball for the city or we don’t,” Peresich said. “There never will be a better opportunity.”

The stadium site is across U.S. Highway 90 from the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino. The casino has agreed to lease the land to the city for $1 a year for 20 years with multiple-year extensions.

Roberta Avila, executive director of the Steps Coalition, said she is a baseball fan and recognizes the ripple effect a stadium would have on business in the area. She said the taxpayers of Biloxi need more details.

“People haven’t had a say,” she said. “That’s our main concern.”

James Crowell, director of the Biloxi NAACP heads up the Biloxi NAACP, said the city needs economic development “but we think that this project is moving a little too fast.

“I think we’re moving a little too fast on this project,” he said. “And if we’re going to spend $21 million of the taxpayers’ money, they should have some input into this.”

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