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Decision reversed: Shuckers ballpark to open June 6

MGM Park

Oh, the drama on the Gulf: The Biloxi Shuckers (Class AA; Southern League) will indeed open at home on June 6 after Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich reversed his decision to put off the opening until August.

As you’ll recall, yesterday Gilich announced that MGM Park wouldn’t open until Aug. 6 after city officials refused to spend $380,000 to have the ballpark ready for play on June 6. Yates Construction has a construction contract to complete the project on August 6, and despite some earlier efforts by Shuckers management to move up that construction date, was holding to an August opening. The city didn’t really coordinate very well with Yates and the Shuckers: the team’s lease also calls for $10,000 to the team for every scrapped game, up to $250,000.

It sounds like Gilich and crew realized they were going to be paying that $250,000 no matter what, and that became part of the financial equation for opening the ballpark next week. From the Biloxi Sun Herald:

Tim Bennett, one of the team’s owners, said: “We saw the importance of making a second run at negotiations, due in part of the fans and their support for the June 6 date. We found a solution that was fair and equitable to all parties involved, most importantly the fans, the players and the coaches.”

Gilich said Wednesday the city would not contribute the $300,000 necessary to meet the June 6 date but said Thursday, “The Shuckers and Yates stepped up today in a spirit of cooperation and we have a deal that is good for all parties. And I’m proud to say it won’t cost the citizens a penny more than already committed to the stadium, and will certainly save hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional fines we potentially faced.”

Now, that’s a goodly amount of spin for Gilich: signing a construction contract calling for one deadline and signing a lease with another deadline is not the height of coordinated planning. But in the end the fans will get to see ballpark in a somewhat finished ballpark, and the team will finally have a home.

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Image of MGM Park via construction webcam.

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