Biloxi citizens want answers about proposed baseball stadium

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A plan to build a $36 million baseball park in downtown Biloxi has raised the concerns of several grass roots organizations in the city. The city would issue $21 million on bonds to help pay for park which would be built on land leased for a dollar a year from Beau Rivage. Included in that amount is $3.5 million to build a parking garage for the use of Beau Rivage employees.

Members of the group "The Taxpayers Coalition" gathered in front of the proposed stadium location Tuesday morning holding signs with questions they want answered. Questions like, why spend public money on a private investment? They believe taxpayers have been left out of the process.

Roberta Avila is with the STEPS Coalition.

"The idea appeals to me, personally, but I feel like it moved too fast. The concept moved too fast. There wasn't really time to hear the pros and cons," Avila said.

Others who gathered, like businessman Milton Grishman, want more information about the deal.

"They say there's a 20 year lease. Well, 20 years is not very long. It needs to be double that. Let's see those conditions of that lease. Let's do the proper due diligence," Grishman implored.

These concerned citizens say they're not entirely against the idea of a downtown baseball stadium, they just believe this process has moved along way too quickly.

James Crowell heads up the Biloxi NAACP.

"We're not against economic prosperity or growing in this community," Crowell said. "But we think that this project is moving a little too fast. And if we're going to spend $21 million of the taxpayers' money, they should have some input into this."

The group also wants to force a vote on the bond, by collecting 1500 signatures during the next week.  If a vote has to be held, the deal could strike out because construction on the stadium would be delayed by a least 90 days.

Ron Peresich is a consulting attorney for the project.

"The proposed new owner, who is buying the team and spending $14.5 million to bring it to Biloxi has made that part of the consideration. He wants it ready for next season," Peresich said.

Mayor A.J. Holloway said a meeting with the concerned citizens might be the answer.

"We could present them with what we know, what we're doing. We're not trying to hide anything. We're just working to get this stadium. It will be a great thing for the city of Biloxi and the Mississippi Gulf Coast."

Other details are also emerging about the proposed deal to build the stadium. It would be operated and maintained by the owner of the team, whose name has not been made public yet.  Insurance on the stadium would be paid for by the team owner, the city of Biloxi, and Beau Rivage.

Copyright 2013 WLOX. All rights reserved.