The city and its baseball team are closer to resolving a lawsuit filed by Biloxi in December, and to work together to promote the team.
Council members called an executive session Tuesday night at the end of a three-hour meeting. Three resolutions were added to the agenda after the session, to dismiss portions of the lawsuit without prejudice against Overtime Sports and Tim Bennett, president of Overtime Sports and a part owner of the Biloxi Shuckers.
The three votes were all unanimous on the use agreement for the stadium marquee sign; the Overtime Sports and Conference USA ticket prices; and the naming rights to the field at MGM Park.
The city will continue to work with the ownership of the Shuckers to resolve any other financial issues, city attorney Peter Abide said. “It’s just a contract that needs to be negotiated.”
“I’m happy to see a 7-0 vote,” Bennett said Wednesday, “that shows a unanimous effort to work together between the city and Overtime Sports.” Bennett, who worked for 10 years to get the stadium built and a minor league baseball team in Biloxi, added, “This is a monumental step forward. In my career I’ve strived to keep a good and positive reputation and having this behind me is significant.”
Abide said Wednesday the city and team are working out a resolution of the accounting and other agreements required in the lawsuit filed Dec. 5 in Harrison County Chancery Court. It asks for a clear accounting of revenue from the operations at MGM Park to verify revenues and expenses.
Under the agreement with Bennett and Overtime Sports, Abide said, the city gets the field-naming rights back. A request for proposals will go out soon, Abide said, and the city hopes this could add $50,000 or more to help recoup the cost of building the stadium. Biloxi borrowed $21 million to build the stadium and the payments are more than $1 million a year.
Under other agreements reached Tuesday with Overtime Sports, “We’re working together on joint promotion of Conference USA, which is going to be a big event for the city and the stadium,” Abide said. A surcharge on ticket prices for the games was raised from $1 to $3 to help the city repay the debt. Hattiesburg sold 17,000 tickets when it hosted the conference, Abide said, and Biloxi could make $75,000.
Overtime Sports negotiated an agreement to hold the games in Biloxi for the next three years.
“I’m looking forward to deepening the relationship I have with the city going forward and participating with them as a partner on the many events we will be hosting at MGM Park,” Bennett said.