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Biloxi council moves closer to selling stadium bonds

Baseball smallThe Biloxi City Council took another step Tuesday in an effort to attract a minor league baseball team to the city by passing a resolution to issue $21 million in general obligation bonds to help finance a $35 million a $35 million stadium. The measure passed 4-2.

There was no significant opposition to Major A.J. Holloway’s request for the bond issue. Efforts by the STEPS Coalition in Biloxi to collect a 1,500-signature petition to force a referendum were unsuccessful. The group collected 888 signatures.

The 7,000-seat stadium will be built on U.S. 90, on land leased from the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino.

The city bond counsel and financial consultants now will now obtain rates for the bond issue, which will be voted on by the new city council in late July.

“It will probably take about 30 days to come back with rates,” said David Nichols, the city’s chief administrative officer.

The remaining funding for the stadium will come from the Gov. Phil Bryant, through funds BP granted to Mississippi in 2010 during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The city will lease the site from Beau Rivage – its current employee parking lot — to the city for $1 a year for 20 years, with an option to extend it for multiple years.

The stadium will be built by Dale Partners architects, which has offices in Jackson and Biloxi. Plans call for it to eventually include a parking garage, entertainment area and hotel overlooking the playing field.

It is expected to be completed in time for the start of the 2014 Southern League season in April.

“So far, it’s all been about the money,” said Vincent Creel, Biloxi’s director of public affairs. “The council still hasn’t see the terms of the lease, and they’ll want to see that before the vote on any loan rates.”

The lease contract is expected to be ready before the rates are presented to the council.

Negotiations are under way to bring a Double-A level team to Biloxi.

Ken Young, a former minor league executive of the year and owner of four minor league baseball franchises, is in the process of purchasing an existing minor league team and relocating the team to Biloxi.

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

(Updated June 20 to clarify bond issue)



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