This has been a simmering issue, and it’s in court, as Tim Bennett and Overtime Sports Management Biloxi is suing the Biloxi Shuckers, Biloxi Baseball LLC and managing owner Ken Young over access to MGM Park and his share of the concessions revenue from events he booked. UPDATED: The Shuckers respond.
Bennett was key in the decision by Biloxi to build a new ballpark, MGM Park, for the relocating Huntsville Stars (Class AA; Southern League), debuting as the Biloxi Shuckers. It’s a role he’s filled before, helping to bring the Mississippi Braves (Class AA; Southern League) to a new Jackson-area ballpark. The deal with Young and the Shuckers, according to the lawsuit, called for Bennett’s Overtime Sports Management to book events at MGM Park on off-days, among other things.
Bennett has indeed booked other events into the ballparks, including the Conference USA Baseball Championship Tournament. But in recent weeks Bennett has alleged that he’s been shut out of MGM Park and the Shuckers, losing his ballpark office and any role with the team and the facility. Hence the lawsuit filed by Gulfport attorneys Tim Holleman and Wynn Clark. From the Biloxi Sun Herald:
Bennett also says he has no access to stadium records that show how much Biloxi Baseball owes him under their agreements and how much he owes them. He says Biloxi Baseball is withholding payments from him as “offsets” against what Overtime Sports allegedly owes….
Bennett’s lawsuit claims Biloxi Baseball has essentially shut him out of the business and is threatening to cancel its contract with Bennett and Overtime Sports…..
He is asking that a judge order Biloxi Baseball to provide an accounting of various stadium transactions, including restaurant and concession sales. He also wants the judge to order that Biloxi Baseball stop interfering with his scheduling and promotion of special events.
He says the judge’s orders would be in the public interest because the city will lose revenue if Biloxi Baseball continues interfering with special events. The city receives a portion of ticket sales for the events. Biloxi uses the money to help repay about $1 million a year on a total of $21 million the city borrowed to build the stadium.
In December, the city filed a lawsuit against Biloxi Baseball and Overtime Sports, contending that it needed a clearer accounting of revenue from operations at MGM Park. Overtime Sports and the city reached an agreement, while the team and the city have reached a tentative agreement, subject to court approval.
UPDATE: Here is a response to the lawsuit from Biloxi Shuckers team president Ken Young:
I am extremely disappointed that Tim Bennett resorted to filing a lawsuit, but I look forward to defending Biloxi Baseball and myself against these baseless allegations. Every action taken by Biloxi Baseball and myself has been justified by the lack of professionalism of Tim Bennett and Overtime Sports, and as a result of the numerous breaches of agreements by Tim Bennett and Overtime Sports. The Biloxi Shuckers have been great for the City of Biloxi and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Further, the Shuckers are a first class operation run by wonderful employees. Unfortunately, Tim Bennett has put his own interests ahead of the Biloxi Shuckers and the City of Biloxi. For quite some time, I have attempted to reach an agreeable resolution with Tim Bennett and Overtime Sports. Tim Bennett would not discuss a mutually beneficial resolution. Despite Tim Bennett’s ownership interest in Biloxi Baseball, he continues to harm Biloxi Baseball and its employees. I am sorry that this dispute will play out in a public courtroom, and that a private resolution could not be reached. The Shuckers look forward to continuing to enjoy another successful season at MGM Park, and our superb employees will continue to make your ballgame experience one of the best in all of baseball!