Biloxi City Council approves spending $418,000 for 2,000 additional seats at baseball stadium

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BILOXI, Mississippi — The Biloxi City Council has authorized spending $418,000 for about 2,000 seats initially removed from plans for a new minor league baseball park.

The additional cost puts the ballpark project $90,000 over its $36 million budget.

The city council voted 4-3 Tuesday to spend the money.

Contractors say work on Biloxi's new baseball stadium is on schedule with pre-casting set to start in December. Some council members said if they knew Minor League baseball requires stadiums have at least 6,000 seats, they never would have approved a budget that included less than that.

"If you had to have so many seats that should have been in there to start with," Councilman George Lawrence said. "I don't think we have $418,000 floating around anywhere to pay for this thing. There's no money left in the contingency fund if this thing is right."

Tim Bennett, one of the team owners, said without the additional seats, the city would be losing almost $300,000 a year in revenues.

Bennett said 5,000 of the seats in the stadium are chair-back seats and the remaining 1,000 are in picnic areas, suites, party decks and on the berm.

Council members Kenny Glavan, Dixie Newman, Robert Deming and Felix Gines voted to approve the additional seating after the city engineer announced utility work on the stadium is running around $400,000 less than projected and that savings can be applied to other needs like seating.

"We knew ... there were certain amenities taken out to meet budget. Just like we've said all along, if we are able to put some of these amenities back in place we're certainly going to do that. We want the best possible stadium that we possibly can get for the $36 million that we've committed," Glavan said.

The city still has to find additional money for audio, an electronic scoreboard and signs, said Gina Tompkins, city attorney.

"We're hoping for additional funding sources that have not materialized yet," she said.

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