Wednesday afternoon, Biloxi opened bids for the contractors wishing to build the new baseball stadium. The low bidder was five million dollars over budget and this could mean yet another delay in construction.
W.G. Yates Construction delivered the lowest bid Wednesday at $32 million. The limit was $27 million and now the city is left with some tough decisions to make. Mayor A.J. Holloway says, “I’m a little disappointed, but that's what the game is all about. You have to bid it out and see what happens.”
Initially, the budget for the project was $36 million. Biloxi chipped in $21 million and the State of Mississippi gave $15 million, but since work on the project began, $9 million has already been spent. That brings the budget down to $27 million. The Biloxi City Council has already borrowed $21 million for the project. That's money the tax payers will have to pay back, and if the council accepts the $32 million bid at next week’s meeting, then they'll have to borrow $5 million more. Biloxi Public Affairs Manager, Vincent Creel, says, “The reason there was a gap was because we already started work on some of the foundation, some of the site work, and we spent or committed $9 million dollars.”
Another option for the city is to start over on the bidding process, but that would mean delaying construction for at least another 45 days, and with baseball season right around the corner, time is running out. Biloxi City Council President, Kenny Glavan, says, “Regardless of the outcome today, we'll make it work. We'll find the resources and we'll be playing baseball next year.”
Finally, the city can remove amenities from W.G. Yates Construction's current bid proposal. That could bring the project back under budget, but it would mean building a simpler stadium. Creel also says, “For instance, for the construction schedule there was a bid for 300 days or 365 days, you're talking about a million dollars right there.”
Despite Wednesday’s setbacks, the project’s leaders remain optimistic. Tim Bennett, co-owner of the Biloxi baseball team, closes, “We don’t anticipate us missing any significant number of games and I’m projecting that we’ll finish on time.”