Businesses expect stadium to be a win-win for family attractions

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - During his pitch for a minor league baseball stadium in Biloxi, Governor Phil Bryant stated that a Go-Coast study found a lack of family attractions on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Operators of several tourist attractions agree with that. They believe the new ballpark will be a win-win for their businesses and visitors looking for some family fun.

Big Play Family Fun Center in Biloxi is kicking off its fourth summer tourism season. This year, it added an Adventure Park, featuring a crocodile slide, obstacle course, and jump house. The owner hopes families that come to catch the games at the proposed baseball stadium in downtown Biloxi will also swing by his business.

"It brings families to the coast and it'll make them stay longer. I think right now, most of the tourists we have are coming two to three days, verses in the panhandle, they come and stay for a week. For me, owning a family entertainment center, I want them here as long as possible," said Brandon Wooldridge.

And once the tourism industry grows, Wooldridge wants to speed-up plans to expand his business by replacing the inflatable creatures with permanent attractions.

"We're looking probably mid-size roller coaster, high adrenaline, larger water slide. There will be a lazy river, some bumper boats," said Wooldridge. "Up to this point, we haven't had enough family-type demographic coming here to justify that large of an expense."

The general manager of Gulf Islands Water Park in Gulfport believes professional baseball will be a big hit with families looking for more fun options.

"Clearly we're one of the larger family attractions. Ship Island tours is a large family attraction. But more is better for everyone. More families we can draw to the coast, that just means more tourism dollars to spread around," said Mark Moore.

"It's a great idea!" said Shannon Melton of Gulfport. "I think it'll work out. It'll bring a lot of people back into the community, more families coming out."

With a projected 300,000 visitors and $10 million economic impact a year, the baseball stadium could mean a home run for family attractions.

"You draw additional people to the coast, whether it be through sports, or whether it be through family entertainment, they begin to see the other things the coast has to offer and those are huge benefits we all can enjoy," said Moore.

The new stadium could be ready for the 2014 season.

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