Meridian Star

January 14, 2014

Developers look to get into Biloxi's ball game

The Associated Press
Associated Press

BILOXI, Miss. — Biloxi officials say developers are considering hotels, restaurants, entertainment and other projects in downtown — all fueled by the prospect of a baseball stadium attracting 350,000 people or more each year to the area.

"Just the rumor of the baseball stadium has brought a lot of interest and phone calls about property in the downtown area," Jerry Creel, Biloxi's community development director, tells The Sun Herald (http://bit.ly/1eFF1KD ).

These are properties that haven't drawn any calls in a long time, he said.

Last week, the Southern League announced the Huntsville (Ala.) Stars AA baseball team will move to Biloxi in 2015.

The Biloxi City Council still has to vote on a $21 million bond issue before construction can begin on the 6,000-seat stadium.

"We'll come back and finalize the issues related to the contract and get the city council, the team and Beau Rivage in agreement. Once that's done, we'll sell the bonds. It will take us, once all that's done, about 30 days to have money in hand to start paying vendors," David Nichols, the city's chief administrative officer, tells WLOX-TV in Biloxi (http://bit.ly/1a3X8L1).

With about 70 home games, a sell-out crowd would bring more than 420,000 fans to Biloxi a year. Concerts and other events proposed for the stadium would draw an even larger customer base to downtown, where business has been slow to return since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The interest is concentrated within a 5-block area of the stadium site, which is on U.S. 90, across from the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino, although Creel said development is occurring throughout the city.