MGM Park's final tab will top $36 million - - The News for South Mississippi

MGM Park's final tab will top $36 million

MGM Park construction costs will be right at $36 million, but other costs will push the final bill a bit beyond the city's budget (Photo source: WLOX) MGM Park construction costs will be right at $36 million, but other costs will push the final bill a bit beyond the city's budget (Photo source: WLOX)

The finishing touches at MGM Park are complete. The construction teams are gone. Biloxi is about to receive a breakdown of what it paid to build its downtown baseball stadium.

Next week, the Biloxi City Council will be asked to approve its final payment to Yates Construction. If you add that $59,572 invoice to every other construction receipt, the city's chief administrative officer David Nichols says Biloxi will have met its goal. It built MGM Park within its $36 million budget. But, there's an asterisk next to that total.

Nichols said that price doesn't include engineering costs and other essentials paid by the city to build a fan-friendly ballpark. Throw those receipts into the mix, and the MGM Park price tag goes up. How much? Nichols says he'll have that total after Christmas. He admits the total will top the $36 million ceiling city leaders set when they agreed to build a baseball stadium.

Biloxi funded MGM Park through a $15 million payment from the state and a $21 million bond approved by the city council. At the time, that money was expected to cover all ballpark construction costs.

Now, city leaders admit once the costs related to engineering fees and other items are tallied, Biloxi will be just a bit over that pot of construction money. Nichols says Biloxi will dip into its general fund and the road improvement bond to make those payments.

Was year one at MGM Park a success?

According to the Southern League website, the Shuckers averaged 2,600 fans a game. That number includes home games played in other ballparks in April and May when MGM Park was still under construction. Biloxi's attendance average was eighth in the 10 team league.

That number is almost double what the Shuckers averaged in 2014 when they played in north Alabama. That year, 1,460 fans a game attended Huntsville Stars' game, despite knowing their team would soon be relocating to South Mississippi.

A year earlier, when nobody knew the Stars might bolt for Biloxi, an average of 1,877 fans a game watched Huntsville baseball games. Based on that comparison, Biloxi's baseball team drew 727 more fans each game in 2015 than Huntsville's team did in 2013.

Based on agreements made with the Shuckers, Biloxi won't get a cut of ticket sales until 2018.  But, the city does receive tax revenue from concession sales. Nichols says the administration is hopeful that first check will arrive in the next few weeks.

Opening day 2016 is April 7 at MGM Park against the Southern League champion Chattanooga Lookouts.

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