BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Junior college baseball players from across the state will get a taste of what it's like to play in a professional stadium. On Monday, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College announced an agreement with the Biloxi Shuckers for the Bulldogs to play their 2016 home games at MGM Park.
Most college baseball players dream of one day playing in a professional baseball stadium, but few actually get that shot. That's why MGCCC Baseball Coach Rodney Batts said his Bulldogs are excited to play their 2016 home games at MGM Park.
"For them to come and play in a brand new ballpark, to play in a minor league AA ballpark that they all have dreams and ambitions of doing, but very few of us get to do that," said Batts. "To be able to play 26 games in a minor league ballpark, that's going to be very exciting for them."
The team is also excited about the new baseball complex MGCCC will build at its Perkinston campus. However, with construction on the Ken "Curly" Farris Field scheduled to not wrap up until the fall of 2016, the college was looking at its options for where to hold games. That's when the Biloxi Shuckers stepped up to the plate.
"We've been looking around for some options, and knowing that we were going to have to find some alternative places," said MGCCC President Dr. Mary Graham. "We've talked to some high schools, but you can't ask for a better solution to our situation than to play in a professional baseball stadium."
"As you can see, they're working on a brand new facility such as we are, and it would have been very unfortunate for their kids, because they would have had to play their games on the road as we're having to start our season," said Tim Bennett, with the Biloxi Shuckers. "We kind of know how they feel, and we figured it would be a big show of support for the community if we agreed to host them at our facility here at MGM Park next year."
Those involved said the partnership also helps the entire area by bringing junior college baseball fans from across the state to Biloxi to see what the area has to offer.
"I think it's a great community service. I think it's a great service for Mississippi," said Graham. "You know, it's all about economic development. So, the more people we can share the great offerings down here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the better. Baseball is one thing that will bring people together."
By not having to make the drive to Perkinston, Batts hopes to see more Coast college baseball fans in the stands.
"Being right here on the Coast, I hope it will draw a good crowd. I hope maybe those who can't get a little bit north to Perkinston, we'll be right here at their back door," Batts said. "We'll be down here for 13 dates, 26 games, so hopefully they'll come out and support us."
MGCCC officials said the proceeds from the baseball tickets will be split between the college and the stadium, but the percentage has not yet been decided.