BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - If the bids for Biloxi's baseball stadium were indeed $5.3 million over what the city has allocated for construction, Biloxi's ballpark timeline may be striking out. Why? Because in this instance, a state law on public purchasing forbids the city from negotiating with the lowest bidder.
Senate Bill 2923 was adopted in 2009. It says, "If the lowest and best bid is not more than 10 percent above the amount of funds allocation for a public construction or renovation project, then the agency or governing authority shall be permitted to negotiate with the lowest bidder in order to enter into a contract for an amount not to exceed the funds allocated."
Biloxi leaders say they have $27 million available to build a baseball stadium. The best bid is almost 20 percent more than Biloxi can spend. If the city follows this statute, it can't negotiate with the contractor.
The Biloxi baseball project started with $36 million. City leaders tell us $4 million has already been spent to clear the land, build a foundation, and basic infrastructure work. Another $5 million is under contract with the architects who are designing the ballpark. That's why the city says it has just $27 million on hand to build its stadium.
After the bids were opened Wednesday night, a city spokesman said Biloxi could save money by extending the construction deadline from 300 days to 365 days. In that scenario, the earliest a contractor would be required to complete the stadium would be a year from right now.
What would that mean?
Remember, Biloxi will be fined $10,000 for every home game the ballpark isn't playable.
Let's look at this season for a comparison. The Huntsville Stars, the team moving to Biloxi, played 39 home games between April 20 and today. If Biloxi's team had a similar schedule next year, and the ballpark wasn't ready by now, the city would owe as much as $390,000 in fines.