Biloxi city officials and baseball team owners are scrambling after stadium construction bids came in more than $5 million over budget. Now the city must take a deeper look at plans and try to cut costs. Biloxi officials are working around the clock trying to find a way to pay for the city's baseball stadium.
The city has already spent $9 million of its $36 million budget. That leaves $27 million to work with, but the contracting bids the city received Wednesday to finish the project are over budget by more than $5 million. Tim Bennet, co-owner of the Biloxi baseball team, says, "We're going through those bids right now, reviewing them, and seeing if there are some places we can save money and whittle it back into budget, and we're very confident we can do that." Bennett also says, "It’s just like when you buy a car, you get a base price for that car and then you can add things or you can take them away to knock that price down."
Bennett says it's normal for projects of this size to run over budget, and doesn't expect any drastic changes to happen to the layout of the stadium. Vincent Creel, the Public Affairs Manager for Biloxi, says, "We're looking to build a stadium to occupy for 20 to 30 years. We want to make sure it’s done right, the right way the first time, so no there is no frustration. We actually are excited that we finally got two good bids back in and we can start moving forward."
Some cosmetic changes are being considered. Among them are using asphalt instead of concrete and building different style seating. Creel also says, "The seating that they're talking about, if they change the style of seating of the stadium that would knock off another $400,000."
Their biggest concern is the looming deadline. The city is spending extra money to try to speed up construction of the stadium to keep them from paying minor league fines, but that too comes at a cost. Creel closes, "For instance, the completion schedule, if you go 300 days or 365 days, if you go 365 days that knocks a million dollars off the price."
Bennett says starting over is not an option. Meanwhile, Bennett also says he and the city council members will be putting their heads together over the next couple of days, and hope to have a solid game plan by Tuesday's council meeting.