Shuckers could bring Cuban teams to play in Biloxi this year

Biloxi ShuckersBILOXI —

The owner of the minor league Biloxi Shuckers is planning to bring a Cuban baseball team in to play some exhibition games.

Team owner Tim Bennett said he is meeting with delegates from Cuba on Thursday to discuss the games.

“The goal would be to get one or two teams to come to Biloxi to play baseball,” he said.

They will discuss the best time to play — possibly late summer or early fall when the Shuckers’ season is over, he said.

“We’ll be spending the next few days with them finalizing the deal,” Bennett said.

Bennett said the trip won’t be all business though. He plans on taking the group to MGM Stadium to do a site check, take them to dinner and show off what the coast has to offer.

The Shuckers owner said the Cuban team he’s trying to get to Biloxi is the Industriales, which he says is equivalent to minor league teams in the United States.

“We’re looking at this being a collaborative effort with the entire Gulf Coast community,” Bennett said.

They also are looking well beyond Cuba. Bennett said he would like to create the Biloxi International Games Baseball at MGM Park and bring in teams from China, Korea and all over the world to play each other in Biloxi.

Construction on MGM Stadium is still under way. The Shuckers season opening game is set for April 9 in Pensacola. The first home game is planned for April 20.

Council vote makes make pro baseball in Biloxi official

Proposed Biloxi minor league baseball stadium (Courtesy of Dale Partners)

Proposed Biloxi minor league baseball stadium (Courtesy of Dale Partners)

The extended process of bringing baseball to Biloxi has come to an end.

Now it’s time to build, then play.

The Biloxi City Council passed five measures Tuesday, opening the door to begin construction of a $36 million minor league stadium across the street from the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino.

In votes of 5-2, the council accepted $15 million from the state in BP oil spill funds; agreed to lease land for $1 a year from Beau Rivage Resort & Casino; agreed to a stadium lease with Biloxi Baseball LLC, owners of the minor league franchise; and agreed to the sale of $21 million in Taxable Special Obligation Bonds by the Mississippi Development Bank.

Council members Felix Gines, Dixie Newman, Paul Tisdale, Robert Deming III and Kenny Glavan supported the plan. David Fayard and George Lawerence voted against the measure.

The council voted 7-0 for Dale Partners Architects to build the stadium, parking garage and related facilities.

Ken Young, the majority owner, has purchased the Huntsville, Ala., Stars — a Milwaukee Brewer Double-A farm team — and plans to move the team for the 2015 season. That dictates completion of the first phase of the project by April 2015.

Biloxi has been seeking a baseball team for 20 years, first by former New York Met and Biloxi native Barry Lyons, and more recently by Overtime Sports director Tim Bennett, the man behind the move of the Atlanta Braves Double-A franchise to Pearl in 2004.

This most recent attempt became serious on May 14 when the Biloxi City Council passed the resolution to build a stadium and bring a team to Biloxi. Many delays follows, forcing the developers to push the start date to 2015.

 

Biloxi stadium next step: Acquiring loan, league approval

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.”

Biloxi passes proposal to build minor league stadium for 2015 season

Proposed Biloxi minor league baseball stadium (Courtesy of Dale Partners)

Proposed Biloxi minor league baseball stadium (Courtesy of Dale Partners)

The Biloxi City Council this morning approved a plan by a 5-2 vote to build a $36 million minor league baseball stadium across from the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino on U.S. 90.

In a series of three votes, the council decided to use a $21 million in bond issue, and $15 million from a BP grant pledged by Gov. Phil Bryant to fund the 7,000-seat Double-A stadium.

The Southern League team that will move to Biloxi has not yet been announced, but Tim Bennett — who worked for almost 10 years to secure a team for Biloxi, told GulfLive.com that securing a team was a done deal.

Read the full story from GulfLive.com here.

Biloxi City Council wants economic study on planned stadium

Proposed Biloxi minor league baseball stadium (Courtesy of Dale Partners)

Proposed Biloxi minor league baseball stadium (Courtesy of Dale Partners)

By Frank Brown

Mississippi Business Journal

BILOXI, Mississippi — The Biloxi City Council wants to know what it’s paying for before it OKs a $21 million investment to build a minor league downtown baseball stadium.

The Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to commission an economic analysis on the impact of the $36 million stadium that is planned for what is now a parking lot across the street from the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino on U. S. 90.

The cost of the study would be capped $25,000, and would determine the benefit of the site, as well as how it might drive development in the area.

“I know how people feel about studies, but I want a credible analysis of what we can expect to see for our $21 million investment,” Councilman Paul Tisdale said in a news release by the Ciy of Biloxi. “One of the focuses of the negotiations has been determining whether we can pay the annual note of $1.5 to $1.6 million on the construction cost. The analysis would tell us what additional economic development we can expect and what additional revenue would be generated from those who attend baseball games and other events at the stadium.”

The resolution authorizes the administration to hire a firm to undertake the study, which Tisdale said he hopes “would be sooner rather than later.”

The Gulf Coast Business Council’s research foundation has estimated the stadium development will spur an additional $10 million annually in visitor spending on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Original plans last spring called for the stadium to be completed in time for the 2014 Southern League season, which begins in April. Delays in completing the deal, however, will apparently push the project into 2015.

“We’re close to closing the window on the 2014 season,” Tim Bennett, head of Overtime Sports, told the MBJ last month. “It’s getting to the point where we may have to look at 2015.” At that time, Bennett, who has worked for nine years to bring baseball to Biloxi, said recent delays won’t jeopardize the project. There also has been no announcement regarding which Southern League team is in negotiations to move to Biloxi.

The $36-million stadium project is being funded by a $21-million bond issue by the City of Biloxi and Gov. Phil Bryant’s $15-million grant that will come from the BP oil spill settlement. The land for the stadium will be leased from the Beau Rivage for $1 a year.

The city has issued the bonds, and bids have been sought, but the bonds have not yet been sold. Lease negotiations are still under way and must still be approved by the city council.

The general obligation bonds will be paid back from stadium project revenues. The stadium will host at least 70 minor league games a summer and will be available for other events such as concerts and college baseball games. The 7,000-seat stadium will include a parking garage and an over-the-highway walkway to the Beau Rivage parking garage. Future developments include a hotel overlooking the field on the north side, along with various entertainment and food venues.