No ‘play ball’ on June 6 for MGM Park

Presented with the prospect of paying at least $300,000 to have MGM Park ready for an early opening June 6 with no guarantee that the work could be done in time, Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich announced today that the City of Biloxi will instead work with Yates Construction toward an opening before Aug 4.

“I toured the stadium and met with representatives of Yates Construction to get an update,” explained Gilich. “I was told it would cost $380,000 extra to open June 6, provided the stadium could qualify for a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy.

“My decision was an easy one. I support the stadium and the Biloxi Shuckers, and I’m eager to see the first home game. But I certainly won’t ask the taxpayers to invest that much more into the project, especially with no assurances that the stadium would be ready in nine days.”

Gilich said he was told by contractor William Yates that the added cost of accelerating the opening to June 6 was near $500,000. “I want to thank William for agreeing to lower that to $300,000 after meeting with me,” he said. “And I want to remind the public that Yates Construction has until Aug. 4 to complete the project on schedule. There seems to be some misperceptions that construction is behind schedule just because it’s not ready yet. Yates has worked hard to finish ahead of schedule and I believe they will.”

The Biloxi City Council entered into a contract with Yates Construction in August of last year for a 12-month build out. Although the contractor says it is ahead of the scheduled completion date of Aug. 4, Mayor Gilich said Yates is working diligently toward an earlier opening.

“There are many things the City has to prepare for related to the opening, from traffic and parking to public safety concerns,” added Gilich. “I’m confident Biloxi is ready to meet the challenges of opening day, but there are still many construction issues to be completed before the stadium could open. Yates is determined to complete those as quickly as possible and get the Shuckers on the field ahead of schedule. ”

Biloxi faces a $10,000-per-game fine for every home game missed this season, but a contract amendment capped the fine at $250,000 if certain stadium improvements are not completed by the team by June 1. By that date, the Shuckers will have missed 25 home games, according to Shuckers minority owner Tim Bennett. Another 24 home games are scheduled from June 6 to Aug. 4.
See photos from the Mayor’s tour on Friday