Biloxi Shuckers

Biloxi Shuckers' Season 2 will bring mascot, bobbleheads, new foods

TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALDFans watch the Shuckers play the Montgomery Biscuits at MGM Park in Biloxi on June 18. With the stadium now nearly complete, the team can focus in the off-season on creating a mascot, completing the south entrance and tweaking the menu at the concession stands.
TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALDFans watch the Shuckers play the Montgomery Biscuits at MGM Park in Biloxi on June 18. With the stadium now nearly complete, the team can focus in the off-season on creating a mascot, completing the south entrance and tweaking the menu at the concession stands. SUN HERALD

BILOXI -- The "miracle season" is in the record books, and now the Biloxi Shuckers' management is preparing for Season 2 by creating a team mascot and lining up promotions.

It's still a little early for details, but general manager Buck Rogers said, "I want to do fireworks every Saturday night."

At Friday night home games, he hopes to provide some kind

of fan giveaway and said, "We'll definitely have at least one bobblehead."

It could be Orlando Arcia, the Milwaukee Brewers' Minor League Player of the Year for 2015 and a fan favorite, or one of the six players from the inaugural season who went directly to the Brewers after the league championship series.

"All these guys deserve their own bobblehead," Rogers said.

He has plenty of ideas to create the zaniness at MGM Park that minor league baseball is known for.

"Last year, our promotion schedule was 'let's get in the ballpark,'" he said. With stadium construction nearly complete, "we've got the luxury now of a full offseason."

Some of the things they'll be working on between now and Opening Day on April 7:

n Ticket sales. Season tickets should go on sale in the next two weeks along with tickets for the college baseball games, said Tim Bennett, one of the team owners and president of Overtime Sports. Mississippi State, Tulane, USM and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College are some of the teams that will play at the stadium this spring, and he's already booking 2017 college games.

Ticket prices will be about the same as Shuckers games to cover the cost of the teams coming to Biloxi, and VIP experiences will add a twist to the college games, he said.

n Special events. Coming in the next few weeks are a mixed martial arts fight Oct. 24, a gospel event Oct. 31 and Flo Rida on Nov. 6, and Bennett said other shows and special events will be announced.

n The mascot. A Shuckers mascot will be unveiled during the offseason.

n South ticket gate. Bennett said stadium construction is nearly complete and the south ticket entrance will be finished soon. The team will adjust lights and hang speakers during the offseason.

n Highway crossover. Kelly Castleberry of the state Department of Transportation said planning continues for a pedestrian walkway over U.S. 90 from the sidewalk near the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino on the south side to near the south entrance of the stadium. "We're in the process of getting an agreement worked out between the state and the city of Biloxi," he said. The crossover still has to be designed and will have elevators to provide handicap accessibility.

n The food. Along with all the awards for the team, the coaches and the players, the Shuckers were praised for the food served at MGM Park. PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, named it the third most vegetarian friendly minor league ballpark for its spiced black bean burgers and veggie dogs.

Mike Brulatour of Ovations Food Services said the No. 1 food -- a surprise to nobody -- was the hot dog. In the abbreviated home season, about 20,000 were sold. That was followed closely by The Shed's barbecue nachos, which combined a local favorite with a dish created by Brulatour and chef Bob Barlow a decade ago when they worked together in Memphis.

He had predicted the pimento cheeseburger would be a big hit, but "not so much," Brulatour said. Instead, fans bought more than 25,000 cold beverages in Shuckers souvenir cups, more than 20,000 orders of Dip and Dots, more than 10,000 orders of bottomless popcorn and 5,000 orders of chicken tenders.

People from out of town especially like the local taste of jambalaya, peel-and-eat shrimp and grilled oysters, he said. They also went for slices of cold watermelon on hot nights and local craft beer.

Cheese curds, a favorite in Milwaukee, made it on the menu at the suite level along with bratwurst.

Some of these might be sold at the concession stands in 2016 and Brulatour said, "I think a cheese steak is in our future."

n The 2016 schedule is already released and tweaks made. The Shuckers will open April 7 at home against Chattanooga, the team that beat Biloxi for the Southern League championship. An adjustment was made for the games with Mobile so one team and their fans don't have to make the commute every day, Rogers said. Instead, a series will have two games at one field and three at another.

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