Jackson, MS officials approved a Smith-Wills Stadium management agreement with an entity backed by Tim Bennett of Overtime Sports, facilitating a plan that includes future upgrades and more events.
Smith-Wills Stadium is best remembered in professional baseball circles as the home of the Jackson Mets/Generals (Class AA; Texas League) from 1975-1999, before hosting the Jackson DiamondKats (independent; Texas-Louisiana League, 2000) and the Jackson Senators (independent; Central Baseball League, 2002-2005). It has been used in more recent years by Belhaven University’s baseball program, but the city had been debating whether to leave it open or demolish it to clear way for new development. Jackson issued a request for proposals (RFP) late last year to solicit interest from firms that could assume management of the venue, receiving a response from Kusche Sports Group–an entity formed by Bennett, the founder/owner of Overtime Sports and an owner of the Biloxi Shuckers (Class AA; Southern League).
Plans for Kusche Sports Group to take over the ballpark’s management are moving forward, as an agreement was recently approved by the Jackson City Council. The 20-year agreement, which also includes two ten-year options, clears the way for Kusche Sports Group to soon begin sprucing up the ballpark’s condition before delving into more thorough renovations. New events are expected to be drawn to the ballpark as a result of the agreement, which is receiving solid praise from city officials. More from The Northside Sun:
Initially, Jackson will receive 30 percent of all revenues generated at the stadium. Beginning September 30, Kusche will remit to the city 30 percent of all event revenues generated at the stadium.
Starting October 1, 2020, the firm will begin paying the city an annual fee of at least $125,000.
“It’s a really good deal for the city,” said Parks and Recreation Director Ison Harris. “We’re excited about it.”
Contract terms were hammered out over the last six months.
One memorable moment in Smith-Wills Stadium history came in 1978, when the ballpark hosted the marriage of Jackson Mets outfielder Mookie Wilson to Rosa Gilbert a la Bull Durham, with teammates marking the occasion by holding their bats overhead while the happy couple walked from the infield to the dugout.
Image courtesy Bellhaven University.
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