To MudCat or not to MudCat?

By M. Scott Morris and John Pitts/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The owner of the Mississippi MudCats has expressed interest in putting his pro football team back on the field.
The team played its last game at the BancorpSouth Arena in 2008. Todd Hunt, arena director, said the team’s principal owner, Tupelo attorney Jim Waide, has discussed bringing back the indoor team.
It’s too late for 2011, as most indoor pro leagues are already under way. And dates for the next year in the arena are gettng booked up quickly.
“We have five open Saturdays” available in 2012, Hunt told Tupelo Coliseum Commission members on Tuesday. “They play seven to eight home games a year. If they were to play, we would have to kick out somebody else.”
Waide, who was not present at Tuesday’s meeting, said later that he had “done a lot of thinking about this thing, but with an eye on 2012, not this year.”
He retained the MudCats name after the team’s final season and said at the time he might consider reviving it at a later date. “I’m really at the beginning stages, but I’m still convinced this can be successful. I lost enough money that I think I now know how to do it successfully.”
In an interview with the Journal in late 2008, Waide estimated that he had spent more than $650,000 in little more than a year as the principal owner. He first invested in the team in its debut season, 2007.
Hunt told the commission that Waide suggested the possibility of donating proceeds from MudCats’ games to a nonprofit agency in Northeast Mississippi.
Scott Reed, commission chairman, said the prospect of bringing football back to the arena wouldn’t be an easy decision.
“It was fun to watch” the games, Reed said. “Unfortunately, there weren’t enough of us there.”
MudCats’ games had an average attendance of 2,600 people per game. Hunt said the arena netted a profit of about $6,000 per game.
Hunt added that filling seven to eight Saturday nights with football would create potential scheduling conflicts when the arena had opportunities to host other shows.
“For a big show, we could bring in $50,000 to $60,000 in one night,” Hunt said.
In two seasons, the MudCats compiled a 24-4 regular-season record but failed to reach the league championship game.
No decision was made on Monday, and Hunt said he would continue to discuss the possibilities with Waide.
Meanwhile, Waide said he had also made contact with officials at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson. “I’m not doing that as a threat, but I’ve got to be able to get a better deal.”
Contact M. Scott Morris at 678-1589 or scott.morris@journalinc.com. Contact John L. Pitts at john.pitts@journalinc.com.