BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Biloxi Shuckers had to play what was supposed to be their first "home" game in Jacksonville, FL, because the team's new stadium is not yet complete. When that new stadium opens, expect some Biloxi streets to close around game time. On Tuesday, the Biloxi Police Chief unveiled his plan for dealing with the traffic as thousands of baseball fans pour into town.
Those constructing Biloxi's new baseball stadium said they still hope to have sod on the field in early May, despite the challenges of recent heavy rains.
"Overall, we've continued to push as hard as we can. We're working Saturdays and Sundays. We're continuing to work with the team and the city to figure out solutions to certain things to potentially have games sooner than our contract of August," said Jason Wold, of Yates Construction.
Meanwhile, Biloxi police have come up with a strategy for how to manage traffic from an expected 5,0000 baseball fans.
"We're prepared to take over the lights on Highway 90. As long as they control themselves, that's fine, but if traffic backs up, we'll take over those lights and actually push traffic on through. Very difficult because we don't know where everyone is going to park," said Police Chief John Miller. "It's hard not seeing how much traffic we're going to have and where all these people are going to park at."
Police plan to shut down Caillavet Street from Highway 90 to Howard Avenue and close Howard Avenue east to Lameuse Street. Only pedestrians will be allowed access.
"We expect a whole lot of pedestrian traffic is going to be coming through the View Marche through there, and either we're going to have to shut it down or take the chance that nobody gets run over," Miller said.
The chief says closing streets and directing traffic will cost the city money.
"Right now, just shutting down those roads and having officers there to direct traffic where to go, we're looking at 12 to 15 officers to do that," said Miller.
Police said what they have now is just an initial plan, and they'll see if it needs tweaking after a few games.
Biloxi City Council members asked the chief how the street closures will affect businesses.
"It's my understanding the lounge on the corner doesn't have a problem with it. Everything else can be accessed from some other place, except the drug store. So, I'm not real sure how we're going to handle that," Miller said. "Late games, we won't have a problem with that. We'll shut it down probably around the time they close, but other events we have during the daytime, it's going to pose a problem because there's no other access in there."