Coast residents are excited about minor league baseball hitting the Coast. Most see it as a positive development, but there is one major drawback. It has benched the local minor league hockey team for now. Tommy Domenico, Surge broadcaster with 96.7 The Champ, says, “On Friday afternoon, the announcement came down that the Mississippi Surge will suspend operations indefinitely.”
The news of the Surge suspension has surprised many, but Domenico says it’s been a steep decline since hockey burst on the local scene years ago. He says, "It’s very tough in our area, with the nightlife and the casinos. It’s hard to compete, and I think we have seen a decline in attendance because of that." The Mississippi Surge has been bringing what they call “high voltage hockey” to the Coast Coliseum for the last five years, but Coliseum officials say that business will continue whether hockey is there or not. Matt McDonnell, the Assistant Executive Director of the Coliseum, says, “Naturally, you've got some dates you need to figure out, but in our case, we have always booked our regular book of business.”
McDonnell says that hockey took up secondary dates and was even shifted for events like rodeos and festivals. McDonnell also says, “If a touring event wanted to come in on a date, even if we had them scheduled, we had the flexibility to move them.” Now that baseball has taken center stage in Biloxi, Domenico says the novelty of hockey has faded. He says, “Just being in the south though, baseball is accepted by everybody, but everyone is jumping on board because it’s something new and fresh in the area.” Part owner of the team, Jimmy Hodge, tells News 25 that they are working to keep the Surge here and Coliseum officials say they think the fans can expect players to hit the ice again.
McDonnell closes, “Don’t give all hope that hockey’s gone. It may just be temporarily taking a break.” News 25 spoke with Hodge. He says, "The team needs more investors to stay in Biloxi. In the meantime, Coliseum management continues to look for booking opportunities.”