Biloxi gets ready for Conference USA baseball tournament - - The News for South Mississippi

Biloxi gets ready for Conference USA baseball tournament

Conference USA tournament play begins Wednesday at MGM Park in Biloxi. Conference USA tournament play begins Wednesday at MGM Park in Biloxi.

The Conference USA baseball tournament is just days away and the welcome mat is out. All signs point to a big weekend.

Eight Division 1 college teams throughout the southeast will play at MGM Park beginning Wednesday, including the regular season conference champion, Southern Miss.

And it could be one of the biggest economic generators seen at MGM Park.

“When we look at five days of television coverage - national television coverage for the championship game - there will never be a greater economic impact from this baseball stadium than (what) we'll see in the next five or six days,” said Tim Bennett of Overtime Sports and co-owner of the Biloxi Shuckers.

Bennett said that minor league baseball is the foundation for MGM Park. But he also believes something else is needed to help pay the bills, even during the baseball season. In 2015, Bennett announced that the tournament would be at MGM Park for three years, possibly more.

“There’s no doubt the community can support this. I think the onus is back on our organization to make sure we give them something to support. Not everybody likes baseball, but everybody likes money.”

And that’s the language that business understands.

Memorial Day weekend likely would help fill hotel rooms regardless, but many managers are finding the extra event an exciting opportunity.

“We sell out almost every weekend, but if they have something during week - if they have any kind of events or shows or anything - it really brings a lot of people in and helps out business during the week,” said Kristian Jackson, weekend manager of the Best Western Oak Manor.

And being right across the street, has its benefits with a little patience and good will.

“They'll sometimes use our parking for next door,” she said. “So, it’s very convenient for us, and, after the game, if they don’t have anywhere to stay, they’ll stay here.”

Bob and Shirley Lawson are Shuckers regulars, but they plan to come to the CUSA tournament, because they are also Southern Miss fans.

“They have a nice park here and I think they need to have - we need to get more colleges and more teams coming in here to support the thing and get the attendance up,” said Bob Lawson.

Added, Shirley Lawson: “Oh, definitely I think it would help business. Oh, yes, to bring in all these people. Especially, people from out of town that stay at some of the casinos and they can come here to see a baseball game, relax.”

Bennett said $1 from every ticket sold will go to about 10 different charities. And if the tournament eclipses 22,000, charities will receive $2 dollars per ticket next year.

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