By Cliff Kirkland
With City Council approval of a $36 million stadium project formalized Tuesday, Biloxi Baseball, LLC will immediately begin the year-long process of moving the Hunstville (Ala.) Stars of the Double-A Southern League here in time for the 2015 season.
The Stars are owned by Biloxi Baseball, which is headed by majority owner Ken Young, who also owns four other minor league teams. The Stars are a franchise of the Milwaukee Brewers.
“We have to scramble now to get the stadium built and our local presence established in time for next season,” said Biloxi Baseball minority owner Tim Bennett, who as owner of Overtime Sports will manage the stadium for Biloxi. “We appreciate the confidence of the City of Biloxi, and we are excited about the enormous community support we’ve already received. Biloxi and the Mississippi Coast are hungry for professional baseball, and we’re going to expedite everything we can to try to be ready for the 2015 season.”
City Council members voted 5-2 Tuesday to approve the sale of a $21 million Special Obligation Bond that, coupled with $15 million of BP Oil Spill Settlement money from the State of Mississippi, will fund the project near Downtown Biloxi. The stadium site is on land the City will lease from Beau Rivage Resort & Casino. Council members also voted 5-2 to enter into a sublease with Beau Rivage, and to a sublease for stadium management with Biloxi Baseball, LLC. A separate vote to hire Dale Partners as the project architects passed 7-0.
Tuesday’s City Council vote culminated more than 10 years of determination to bring minor league baseball to the area, said Bennett. The idea was first suggested by former major leaguer and native Biloxian Barry Lyons, who introduced Bennett to city leaders more than a decade ago.
“A tremendous amount of hard work went into this effort,” said Bennett. “Many people have been instrumental in getting us to this point, but Barry certainly needs to be recognized for his vision and his determination.”
Bids for construction should go out as early as next week. Bennett said the stadium, which will be owned by the City of Biloxi, will be utilized for concerts, festivals, other sports and special events outside of baseball season.
“This is a great day for Biloxi, the Mississippi Coast and the entire State of Mississippi,” said Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway. “I’m excited about what the team and this new venue are going to do, not only for our downtown area, but for the city in general.”
To see photos from today’s City Council meeting, click here.