BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - After filing a Freedom of Information Act request with the City of Biloxi, WLOX has learned the total cost of MGM Park's construction.
The project was budgeted for $36 million. The final cost went to $36,529,808, which is $500,000 over budget. That number includes the $250,000 fee the city had to pay for the Shuckers not being able to play in the stadium during the first two months of last season.
WLOX also learned the city has collected $100,000 in revenue in the one year since the stadium opened. That revenue only comes from ticket sales off the 33 non-Shuckers events held in the stadium.
The city is supposed to get a cut of sales tax from concessions and other items sold in the stadium, but right now, the city has collected no sales tax money from the stadium.
"We could do better. We could do better," Biloxi Mayor FoFo Gilich said.
What Gilich wants to do better is bring in more money from the stadium that was built with the promise of an economic boom for downtown Biloxi. The $100,000 collected from non-Shuckers events, like the college baseball games and concert, is far short of the city's yearly scheduled payment of $1.6 million to be paid for 20 years.
"Are we off to a slow start? I don't think it's what anybody envisioned, but I don't think it's a horrible start either," Biloxi City Councilman Paul Tisdale said.
The city's revenue could increase from an enhanced sales tax rebate off items sold inside the stadium.
"We were hoping that would add up to $300,000 or $400,000 extra a year," Gilich said.
That sales tax money is supposed to be broken into two payments a year, but no payments have been distributed by the state sales tax commission yet.
"Their indication is they want to make sure that they have all the vendors involved that should be instead of the two or three main ones there. Maybe 10," Gilich said. "I'm not trying to defend one way or the other, but that's what the sales tax commission has been indicating to us."
If the city's revenue from MGM Park ultimately falls short of the $1.6 million needed for the annual payment, Tisdale said there is a plan in place for the shortfall.
"If we've got to come up with those funds, then it will come out of the general fund," Tisdale said. "That's the only place that it can come from."
At the present time, Biloxi isn't making any money off Shuckers ticket sales. The team paid for the stadium's scoreboard. As a result, the Shuckers don't have to give the city any money from ticket sales until the 2018 season. Meaning, the only way Biloxi can profit directly from the stadium is to have other events scheduled, and that's something they're working on.
"That's our concern. We want to make sure that we do the right business things to maximize what we have," Gilich said.
"I would think that we have to do a better job of figuring out ways to bring folks into that stadium," said Tisdale.
Based on the contract, the MGM Park construction has one final piece.The pedestrian walkway across Hwy. 90 to the Beau Rivage. A city official told WLOX the money to pay for it is expected to come from the state.