Southern Miss, coast officials celebrate C-USA baseball tourname - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Southern Miss, coast officials celebrate C-USA baseball tournament move to MGM Park

Southern Miss mascot Seymour and cheerleaders celebrate the announcement that the C-USA baseball tournament will be played at MGM Park beginning in 2017. Southern Miss mascot Seymour and cheerleaders celebrate the announcement that the C-USA baseball tournament will be played at MGM Park beginning in 2017.
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

Good news for South Mississippi — Beginning in 2017, the Conference USA baseball tournament will be played at MGM Park in Biloxi in 2017 and 2018 with an option to host in 2019.

Though it's more than a year away, there’s already a buzz about business.

Officials believe the move has the potential of generating a College World Series-like atmosphere and that means more money. It not only will be closer for Southern Miss fans on the coast, but it will also be a central location for the eight teams playing.

Despite a long-term home advantage, Southern Miss Athletic Director Bill McGillis says amenities made it an easy sell.

“I think the athletic directors know that their fans will like it,” McGillis said. “They’d like coming to the beach. They’d like coming to the casinos. They’d like coming to the hotels. They know about the cuisine in South Mississippi and the coast. And I think all of those things came into play and kind of ruled the day.”

That’s good news for tourism and city officials.

“We will certainly work very closely with Conference USA to help promote the weekend stays and longer stays while they're here,” said Rene Areng, executive director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Extend their stays to enjoy the coast.”

Kenny Glavan, Biloxi councilman and hotel operator says it would have big economic consequences.

“I think the impact for the coast is going to be monumental. Taking the Conference USA tournament, moving it to an exciting new venue where they really want to be. I mean this is a tourist city. We welcome tourists and we welcome events like this. And this fits like a glove for us - pardon the pun," added Glavan.

Tim Bennett with Overtime Sports was part of bringing the C-USA tournament to Trustmark Park in Pearl, and expects 20,000 to 30,000 fans in the first year and the eventual exposure will have a big payoff.

“As much as I love Trustmark Park, it was one of my first projects with the Braves, this is just a much better situation because of tourism.”

McGillis says he thought this tournament could eventually become not only one of the best baseball tournaments, but one of the best college sporting events in the country.

Eventually, McGillis says it could also lead to having the coast as the host for the conference basketball tournament.

“Time will tell, but I go into this believing that this event’s going to be here for a long, long time,” he said. “I think over a year, two, three it will be special. Over 10, it will be off the charts good," McGillis added. 

Copyright 2015 WLOX. All rights reserved. 

Powered by Frankly