Despite an ongoing dispute between Tim Bennett’s Overtime Sports and the Biloxi Shuckers ownership, majority owner Ken Young told the Sun Herald on Thursday he wants to see the Conference USA baseball tournament succeed in Biloxi.
The tournament, which Bennett lured to town, is set to take place at MGM Park for the first time next week, running May 24-28. It’s the first year of a three-year deal to keep the tournament in Biloxi, but a recent lawsuit filed by Bennett raised questions about its future on the Coast.
Bennett’s lawsuit makes allegations against Biloxi Baseball LLC and Young that include:
▪ causing event cancellations
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▪ interfering with Bennett’s negotiations with potential clients, including C-USA
▪ preventing use of stadium facilities, including the main box office
The main box office was not open for either of the Southern Miss baseball games at MGM Park this year, both produced by Overtime Sports. Fans were instead directed to a smaller box office on the south side of the stadium.
Attorneys for Bennett, also a Shuckers part-owner, recently put in a request to find out what level of access Overtime Sports and fans will have to the stadium for the C-USA tournament.
Young said Thursday the main box office will be available to Overtime Sports during the tournament, and fans’ access to the stadium will not be that different from a Shuckers game.
There are still plenty of issues to be resolved with the lawsuit, he said, but Young said he thought it was important to go ahead and find some common ground on the C-USA tournament.
“I do want to see it be successful,” he said. “I want to see Tim Bennett be successful. There’s no reason why I want to see him fail. We have different opinions on things, but I will tell you that I don’t want to see him fail.
“If the (tournament) is successful enough, I could see it becoming close to a permanent home. I’m sure there are going to be other communities bidding on it. If there’s enough success, the chances improve that the conference continues to come back.”
An attorney for Bennett, Michael Cavanaugh of Biloxi, declined to comment on Young’s response this week, simply adding, “It’s (Overtime Sports’) right to use the box office.”
Young sees the C-USA tournament as a good thing for Biloxi and South Mississippi.
“I see it as very positive for the community in a lot of ways,” he said. “Let’s face it, C-USA is spread out over close to half the country. We may not have a huge number of people coming to town, but you’ll have enough family and friends coming in. It’s not only a positive from the tournament point of view. It’s positive that people will see the community and may want to come back other than just for the baseball tournament. Once they see it, they’ll notice that it’s a fun place.”
The Southern Miss baseball team has already clinched the C-USA regular season title and will be the No. 1 seed for the tournament. USM (41-12) will play the No. 8 seed at 4 p.m. Wednesday, the first day of the tournament.
When: May 24-28
Where: MGM Park, Biloxi
TV: ESPN3, CBS Sports Network
Radio: WPMO-1580 AM
Tickets: Ticketfly.com; 1-877-344-2174