Mississippi anticipates providing the City of Biloxi a $15 million grant to construct a minor league baseball stadium downtown, Gov. Phil Bryant announced today.
The state's anticipated financial assistance for the project comes from funds BP granted to Mississippi in 2010 during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
"The oil spill of 2010 had a significant impact in Mississippi, especially to our coastal tourism," Gov. Bryant said. "This stadium will be a major regional asset for South Mississippi and will be an exciting new attraction for our residents and tourists of Mississippi's Gulf Coast."
Earlier this month, the Biloxi City Council passed a resolution of intent to issue up to $21 million in bonds to construct a new stadium near Caillavet Street. The state anticipates providing a matching grant of $15 million. The stadium construction is expected to cost approximately $35 million.
The anticipated state matching grant for the stadium would not reduce or otherwise affect Mississippi's right to recover damages from BP and other parties responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, including under the Natural Resource Damage Assessment Process or RESTORE Act.
In 2012, Gov. Bryant began working with a baseball ownership group, led by team owner Ken Young, to identify a suitable site and potential financing for a stadium development. Young, a former minor league executive of the year and owner of four minor league baseball franchises, is in the process of purchasing an existing minor league team and relocating the team to Biloxi.
"I believe Biloxi will be an excellent location for minor league baseball," Young said. "The community will immensely enjoy the sports and entertainment. The venue will be one of the best in baseball, and the region will take great pride in it."
Once constructed, the stadium will likely feature a capacity of approximately 6,500-7,000 people for baseball, including luxury boxes. For other events, such as concerts, the stadium will seat upwards of 14,000 people, including temporary field level seating.
"This project will have major economic and tourism impacts for the Mississippi Gulf Coast," Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway said. "We expect the stadium to spur additional development in downtown Biloxi. We are excited about having baseball in our city."
The Gulf Coast Business Council's research foundation estimates the stadium development will spur an additional $10 million annually in visitor spending on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Before the stadium construction begins, the baseball franchise ownership group will need to finalize the purchase of the existing franchise and receive final approvals from Minor League Baseball for the team's relocation.
"We are going to continue to work with our partners to make Minor League Baseball a reality on the Gulf Coast," Bryant said. "This is an important first step in the process. I look forward to adding professional baseball to the list of amenities our Gulf Coast has to offer."