Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant committed $15 million to a proposed baseball stadium in coastal Biloxi and that stadium is expected to offer changes in the make-up of minor league baseball competition subject to approval from franchising members in Minor League Baseball.
The Huntsville Stars, an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, seem to be the most logical team to relocate. They are playing in the league’s oldest stadium, built in 1985, and have been last in the league in attendance for four consecutive years.
In past years, Milwaukee officials have expressed concern about the stadium and its ability to provide adequate player development.
Said Mayor A.J. Holloway in Biloxi, “Baseball has a long history in Biloxi, going back to the early 1900s, when we were part of the old Cotton State league. And in the ’40s, we had the Washington Senators and other teams come to Biloxi for spring training.
It was nine years ago when Barry Lyons, our own major leaguer, approached us about the idea of having minor league baseball here in Biloxi.
Since that time, there have been a lot of meetings and a lot of discussion. We have looked at a number of different options, and today we are continuing to work on an agreement that could see baseball in Biloxi . . . today another piece of that puzzle falls into place.”
Governor Phil Bryant said, “The state is providing the City of Biloxi a $15 million grant to construct a minor league baseball stadium downtown. The financial assistance for the project comes from funds BP granted to the state in 2010 during the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill . . . causing a significant impact in Mississippi, especially to our coastal tourism.”
Said Bryant, “This stadium will be a major regional asset for South Mississippi and will be an exciting new attraction for our residents and tourists of Mississippi’s Gulf Coast.”
The state grant of $15 million will act as a cost match to help the Biloxi cover the costs of constructing the stadium. The stadium construction is expected to cost approximately $35 million.
In 2012, Governor Bryant began working with a baseball ownership group, led by team owner Ken Young, to identify a suitable site and potential financing for a stadium development. 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 stadium will be built to attract a capacity crowd of approximately about 7,000 people for baseball, including luxury boxes. For other events, such as concerts, the stadium will seat upwards of 14,000 people, including temporary field-level seating.
Before the stadium construction begins, the baseball franchise ownership group will need to finalize the purchase of an existing franchise and receive final approvals from Minor League Baseball for the team’s relocation, another nation-wide take-away from various groups working together toward a common cause.
The criteria that appears to have made Biloxi a baseball attraction was location, weather, tourism potential and a community willing to share in the cost of a sports stadium.
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