Mississippi to use some BP money for stadium

BILOXI, Miss. — Mississippi plans to use $15 million of BP oil spill recovery money to help build a minor league baseball stadium in downtown Biloxi.
Gov. Phil Bryant made the announcement Thursday.

The rest of the $35 million stadium will be paid for by up to $21 million that the city of Biloxi has agreed to borrow.
Bryant says it’s appropriate to use BP money because the stadium will enhance tourism on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, offsetting effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill.

“The oil spill of 2010 had a significant impact in Mississippi, especially to our coastal tourism,” he said in a statement. “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.”

Before the state gives the money, a group led by Ken Young will have to complete the purchase of an unnamed minor league team and get approval to move it to Biloxi. Speculation has centered on the relocation of Southern League teams now in Jackson, Tenn., and Huntsville, Ala. The city has been working with Overtime Sports for nine years to attract a minor league baseball team.

Renderings depict a stadium on the north side of U.S. 90, where Interstate 110 ends at the beach. The 14.5-acre site is currently a parking lot used by employees of the Beau Rivage Casino, owned by MGM Resorts International. The company would lease the land to Biloxi for 20 years at no cost, with options for extensions.

Planners envision a stadium with 6,500 to 7,000 seats for baseball, including luxury boxes. It might hold more than 14,000 people for a concert.
The plan includes a three-story parking garage facing U.S. 90 and an elevated walkway over the highway. A second phase would include a hotel along the third base line as well as a restaurant.

“The venue will be one of the best in baseball, and the region will take great pride in it,” Young said.
The Gulf Coast Business Council’s research foundation estimates the stadium development would spur an additional $10 million annually in visitor spending on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

“This is an important first step in the process,” Bryant said. “I look forward to adding professional baseball to the list of amenities our Gulf Coast has to offer.”