Biloxi baseball co-owner: 'I'm not panicked' by high bids for stadium

meperez@sunherald.com Twitter: MaryPerezSHJuly 11, 2014 

BILOXI -- Major League and Minor League Baseball set the schedules for the 2015 season in August, said Biloxi Council President Kenny Glavan, and Biloxi isn't sure when to say the stadium might be ready for a home game.

But speculation Biloxi's baseball team might stay in Huntsville for another season because bids for Biloxi's stadium came in high is unfounded, Tim Bennett, one of the team's owners, said Friday.

"We'll play here next year," he said in Biloxi.

The bids opened Wednesday puts the project at $5 million over the $36 million the city has to build the stadium,

"I'm not panicked by this at all," Bennett said. "Everything we're going through is 100 percent normal. I've never been part of one that's come in on budget."

The next few days will be critical to the project, as the city, architect, engineers and team look at options and cost-cutting measures, he said.

Architect Leigh Jaunsen with Dale & Associates will report to Biloxi council on Tuesday and Glavan said he anticipates a special meeting later next week.

He had expected the bids to come in at or slightly under budget rather than $5 million over. Since Wednesday, "we're rolling up our sleeves," he said. The city has a budget, he said. "We've got to make it work."

W.G. Yates & Sons was the low bidder on the contract that has several options to reduce the price.

"We want to try to avoid rebidding the contract if we can," Glavan said. That may include cutting out some features, and asking for assistance from the baseball team, Harrison County and the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, which is leasing the site to the city for $1 a year.

The first bond payment on the stadium is due before the start of the baseball season in April. Glavan said the council knew it was coming before the city would start collecting fees from admission to the games to help repay the $21 million bond.

The contract requires the city to pay the team $10,000 for each game that can't be played in the stadium next year. Glavan said he hopes Minor League Baseball will work with the city to schedule games on the road for the first part of the season.

"I think everybody's going to work together," he said.

The site work is already done and Biloxi's stadium will be a pre-fabricated structure that will be built more quickly than a conventional structure, Bennett said. The Mississippi Braves stadium in Pearl is larger than Biloxi's, has a full-service restaurant, had environmental issues at the site and needed to have utilities brought to the property, and Bennett said Yates was able to build it in 11 months.

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