Biloxi stadium next step: Acquiring loan, league approval

October 9, 2013

Banking & Finance, Business, Tourism

Former Major League baseball player and Biloxi native Barry Lyons addresses the City Council before Tuesday's vote on building a minor league baseball stadium in Biloxi. Lyons has been part of an effort for many years to bring baseball to the coast. (Photo courtesy of Vincent Creel/City of Biloxi)

Former Major League baseball player and Biloxi native Barry Lyons addresses the City Council before Tuesday’s vote on building a minor league baseball stadium in Biloxi. Lyons has been part of an effort for many years to bring baseball to the coast. (Photo courtesy of Vincent Creel/City of Biloxi)

David Nichols, Biloxi’s chief administrative officer, and city financial advisers were scheduled to be in Jackson today, following through on the city’s vote Tuesday to borrow $21 million to construct a downtown baseball stadium on U.S. 90 that will host minor league baseball games and other events, according to a news release from the City of Bilxoi.

The move comes after the City Council’s 5-2 vote to lease an 8-acre block from the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino (for $1 per year), where the city will construct a stadium, parking garage for Beau Rivage employees, and provide space for other commercial development on the northern end of the site.

“A couple of other things have to happen before we can move forward, and those things will happen before we actually borrow the money,” Nichols said in the release. “First, the team must be purchased, and the Minor League Baseball must approve of everything.

“We expect to see those things happen very shortly.”

Steve Densa, executive director of communications for Minor League Baseball in St. Petersburg, would not comment this morning how long the approval process would take, but acknowledges that it will be helpful because the prospective new owners are already familiar process.

Ken Young, a former min0r league executive of the year and owner of multiple minor league teams, heads the ownership group. He is joined by Tim Bennett of Overtime Sports who has been trying to land a minor league team for Biloxi for 10 years.

An as-yet-unidentified Double AA team in the Southern League is expected to begin play in April 2015. While

Beau Rivage will name the stadium, the team itself, according to an agreement passed by the council, will have “Biloxi” in its name.

The Southern League team that will move to Biloxi has not yet been announced, but told GulfLive.com Tuesday that securing a team was a done deal.

The $36 million initiative will also use $15 million in BP funds provided by Gov. Phil Bryant.

“Biloxi has been working for 10 years to get a professional baseball team in our city,” Mayor A.J. Holloway said in a statement at the outset of Tuesday’s meeting. “We now have the best opportunity we ever had to accomplish our goal.”

Holloway pointed to the $15 million in BP money, use of the Beau Rivage property and the firm’s pledge to market the venture “locally, regionally and nationally,” and an expected $14 million investment of relocating a team by Young, “who has a record of success in managing baseball in other areas of the country.”

Said the mayor in his statement: “All of the pieces are in place for success.”

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