Tim Bennett is suing the owner of the Biloxi Shuckers, Biloxi Baseball LLC, and managing member Ken Young over access to the stadium and money Bennett says he is owed.
Bennett is credited with helping bring minor league baseball to Biloxi, where the Shuckers have started a third season of play. He also is an owner of the team, as is Young, who maintains he tried to resolve the Shuckers’ differences with Bennett in private. A written statement from Young’s attorney, Taylor McNeel of Biloxi, says allegations in the lawsuit are “baseless.”
According to the lawsuit, Bennett and his company, Overtime Sports Management Biloxi, joined Biloxi Baseball in signing leases, subleases and amendments for use of the stadium and parking garage that the city of Biloxi built on Beau Rivage Resort & Casino property.
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.
The lawsuit says Biloxi Baseball and Young are interfering with his exclusive rights to market and schedule special events in the Biloxi stadium, including the Conference USA Baseball Championship Tournament scheduled May 24-28. Bennett says his contract gives him rights to book non-minor league baseball and other special events in the stadium and keep revenue those events generate.
The lawsuit, filed by Gulfport attorneys Tim Holleman and Wynn Clark, includes specific allegations against Biloxi Baseball and Young:
▪ causing event cancellations,
▪ interfering with Bennett’s negotiations with potential clients, including C-USA,
▪ withholding money from concession payments,
▪ demanding that event advertising banners be removed,
▪ and prohibiting use of stadium facilities, including the north box office where event tickets are sold.
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.
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.
The statement sent to the Sun Herald on Young’s behalf says, in part:
“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.
“ . . . 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 city of Biloxi in December sued Overtime Sports and Biloxi Baseball for an accounting of stadium revenue and to collect any money the city was owed. The city and Overtime Sports have settled their dispute, but a tentative settlement with Biloxi Baseball awaits court action.
Bennett recently told the Sun Herald that he no longer feels welcome in the stadium he helped build.