With good weather aiding construction of MGM Park, it looks like the Huntsville Stars (Class AA; Southern League) could begin the 2015 season at Joe Davis Stadium, but be able to play most of the home schedule in Biloxi.
That’s of right now, and that could change in the next month should construction of MGM Park be delayed. But with Southern League officials willing to be patient about a final game plan for the team, currently team owner Ken Young is looking at a scenario where most of the season can be played in Biloxi, even if the ballpark isn’t finished: the team’s lease says that if the playable and the ballpark safe — even if unfinished — then a “temporary certificate of occupancy” can be issued, the team can take the field, and the city can avoid a $10,000/game fine.
What’s being floated as likely, reports AL.com’s Mark McCarter, is the team either switching a first homestand with an opponent or playing the first two homestands in Huntsville. It all depends on when the ballpark can open: the investment of time and money to open Joe Davis Stadium for the season will be undertaken for a minimum of two series:
“If the stadium is close to being ready in Biloxi and maybe we can’t get in there for the first homestand but we would for the second one (to begin April 30), I would say we probably would not (open in Huntsville),” Young said. Any deeper into the season, “then I would say, yeah, there’s a good chance we’ll open in Huntsville.”
This isn’t unprecedented: it happened in 2014 when a new El Paso ballpark was not finished in time for the season opener and the El Paso Chihuahuas (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) opened the season in Tucson.
Meanwhile, there are still efforts to bring a new Southern League team to Huntsville after the departure of the Stars, according to McCarter:
Though they drew only 94,929 in 2014 (attendance was 237,950 in 2001, before they were purchased for a reported $6 million by a group headed by Miles Prentice), sources throughout the league, including Webb, have expressed support for Huntsville as a member if a new stadium is built here.
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