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Biloxi ballpark opening could be determined this week

Biloxi Shuckers logoThe exact opening date of a new Biloxi Shuckers (Class AA; Southern League) ballpark could be determined this week, as the City Council debates whether to spend an additional $1 million to move up a completion date.

It’s clear that the Shuckers are planning to play a good share of the season on the road. The Shuckers are shifting every April and May series to other ballparks, including a “home” series in Pearl and at least 15 games at Huntsville’s Joe Davis Stadium. The current estimated date for an MGM Park opening: June 6, but that’s certainly not written in stone.

And, indeed, there’s now talk that the opening date could slip all the way to August — which would give the Shuckers a few home series before the season ends on Sept. 7. Now, it’s not clear that things will take that long, but we should know a lot more about what’s coming up for the Shuckers after tomorrow’s City Council meeting, which should address whether there’s a million dollars to accelerate construction and exactly when MGM Park will open. From News 25:

City leaders are hoping to find a way to speed up the first home game, especially since the city will have to pay a fine of $10,000 for each home game missed. Vincent Creel, Public Affairs Manager for Biloxi, says, “The City Council, on Tuesday, is going to be looking into all options, and they’re going to weigh the cost of pursuing the options versus the cost of the fines, so whatever they can do to speed it up, they want to do.”

Whether it happens in June or August, the now field of dirt will soon be a field of dreams, and while residents wait for players to swing for the fences, city and team officials just want to play ball. [Tim] Bennett also says, “We’re extremely anxious. This is something that was a dream of Mayor A.J. Holloway that started 11 years ago. We continued to go through everything Katrina, spill, recession, the change in administration, so many different things have happened.”

The completion date of the stadium isn’t the only uncertainty. As the city prepares to vote for a new mayor, some fear the stadium could be caught in the middle. Creel closes, “You could see the stadium become a political football, even after it opens, because frankly, there are still going to be expenses involved in that.”

The city is on the hook for  $10,000 fine for each game opening missed, but like everything else associated with the Shuckers, it’s a little complicated: if a certificate of occupancy is issued (even if the ballpark is not totally completed), the city could avoid the fines.

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