Biloxi reveals baseball stadium bids today; opening day deadline looms

General contractor bids for building the new minor league baseball stadium in Biloxi will be opened today at 4 p.m. at City Hall, marking a step forward in a project that is already weeks behind schedule with an opening day looming next April.

The city had advertised weeks ago for a general contractor for MGM Park at Beau Rivage, the $36 million downtown stadium for the Southern League Double-A team that is moving from Huntsville, Ala. Construction of a foundation and retaining wall and infrastructure work has already begun on the site at U.S. 90 and Caillavet Street, across the street from the Beau Rivage.

“This general contractor will be responsible for bringing this project to completion,” said Biloxi Chief Administrative Officer David Nichols, “and given the timetable we’re looking at, we want the contractor to hit the ground running.”

In May, the City Council decided to abandon the project manager route and hire a general contractor to oversee all facets of construction of the stadium.

The move allowed the city to solicit bids from one overall contractor instead of bidding each individual phase of the project, a process that had required the time-consuming re-bidding of work after initial bids were above projections.

At that time, architects Dale Partners said construction would take about 10 months. If that timetable holds, construction would not be complete until mid-May 2015, six weeks or more after the early April opening of the baseball season.

While the team could play the first few weeks on the road, it is unclear how long the Southern League would let the road games continue, or where the new team would play its home games.

“At this point we are waiting for the construction schedule to come out,” said General Manager Buck Rogers. “Our ownership group is handling the timelines and deadlines, and it would be premature to jump the gun.  I think once they’ve had an opportunity to review the timelines and schedule they’ll have a plan in place, but at this time we haven’t made any decisions.”

Southern League media representative Peter Webb would not discuss game scenarios, only to say: “We’re hoping for the best and we’ll do what we need to when the time comes.”

Still to be determined is the team name. Management recently held a name-team-contest, allowing teams to vote on six choices that were selected from nominations: Beacon, Black Jacks, Mullets, Schooners, Shrimpers and Shuckers. The name and logo will be released this fall it receives league approval and a trademark and logo are developed.

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