BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - "Let's play ball!"
Those were the words of Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway at Thursday afternoon's ground breaking of the new baseball stadium downtown.
Several hundred baseball fans turned out in support of the new team and to witness this historic ceremony.
The theme at the ground breaking was "jeans and jerseys" as fans were encouraged to wear the colors of their favorite baseball teams.
Lead off speaker Governor Phil Bryant told the crowd, "America's sport will be here in Biloxi."
A festive atmosphere filled the future site of the Biloxi baseball park as excited fans wore team colors and enjoyed ballpark food.
Governor Phil Bryant called the $36 million project a dream come true.
"Okay, we need family events and we need a large sporting event. Here we are. It don't get any better than this. This is exactly what we planned and what we talked about and what we dreamed about," said the governor.
Biloxi's mayor reminded the crowd, the project transcends sports.
"This project is not just about baseball. It's about entertainment. It's about economic development. It's good for Biloxi. It's good for South Mississippi. It's good for the entire state," said Mayor Holloway.
"Downtown Biloxi will hear the crack of the bat! The crowd cheering. The ninth inning and the announcer coming across. I can hear it now: Biloxi wins! Biloxi wins!" said Harrison County Supervisor Windy Swetman.
The chief executive of Beau Rivage, which owns the land where the stadium is being built, says downtown Biloxi is the real winner.
"A more active downtown Biloxi. A vibrant pedestrian experience. And what I have been dreaming of for a very long time: A beautiful walkable district where people are here in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening," said George Corchis, with Beau Rivage.
Tim Bennett has worked on the Biloxi baseball project for the past 10 years. He thanked the fans for the support.
"This destiny is yours. The future is yours. This baseball team is yours," said Bennett.
Governor Bryant led his team in the gold shovel moment, as Mayor Holloway echoed the words fans long to hear: "Let's play ball!"
The first official sponsor of the new team was also announced. Appropriately for Biloxi, it's a seafood processing company: M-and-M Seafood.
By the way, the name of the team hasn't been chosen yet; fans will have the chance to make recommendations.