Baseball in Biloxi Hits Some Snags

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Updated: 2/12/2014 6:43 pm
Baseball has been the big news in Biloxi for quite some time, and one groundbreaking and many meetings later, all the issues are not yet resolved and all the questions have not been answered, leaving many wondering if the project will be the home run that city officials are hoping for. Just beyond the doors of Biloxi City Hall are pictures of the stadium the city has fought for and now must rush to complete. David Nichols, the Chief Administrative Officer for Biloxi, says, "Construction will start pretty shortly. In the next 45 60 days, you’ll actually see dirt being moved out there and work starting." The flat property across from the Beau Rivage must be a finished stadium by next April, but the project was, and still is, met by much resistance from taxpayers. Mary Rose Lahey, a resident of Biloxi, says, "I'm going to make a prediction. Y’all pass this folly, five years or less, the City of Biloxi will be bankrupt." Nichols also says, "We can either make an investment in the city and take a chance, or we can do nothing, and doing nothing is not moving the city forward."

Regarding the concerns brought to the city's attention through different phases of this project, city officials say it's all in the name of compromise. Nichols also says, "When you have an agreement with three different parties, not everybody gets everything they want." Not only do taxpayers fear a financial burden, but they are concerned about the trees. The stadium plans involve removing 20 oak trees that have survived many storms throughout the years. Eric Nolan, an arborist, says, "We are losing some big trees, which I don’t like that, but it is what it is." The team's contract requires them to replant a couple of trees every year, replacing the oaks with containerized plants, while the old trees may be used for boats, firewood, or carvings outside the stadium. Nolan also says, "It’s not the best thing in the world, not the best trade, but it’s what we got."

Another issue is parking, a topic that is still raising eyebrows. City officials say there is plenty of parking within walking distance and hope that the increase in pedestrians will bring traffic to local businesses. The problems aren't quite solved yet, and could possibly come up again before the first pitch. Yet another issue is the penalty clause. The contract plans to charge the city $10,000 for every home game missed due to the stadium's construction. That clause still exists, but worries were eased when the team's debut was pushed back a few weeks. With so much hesitation from the people about the project, it's hard to fathom the debate on the horizon over something as simple as the name of the team.

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