OTHER OPINION: Biloxi needs more than ball park figures

By Sun Herald, Biloxi/Gulfport

Biloxi is not the only city interested in building a ball park and putting a minor-league baseball team in it.
Fredericksburg, Va., is considering “issuing as much as $30 million in bonds to build a 5,000-seat stadium for the Hagerstown [Md.] Suns Class-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals,” The Free Lance-Star reported last week.
But the folks in Fredericksburg have some things the folks in Biloxi haven’t seen yet.
First of all, they know the team they are going after.
And they have a pair of Brailsford & Dunlavey reports paid for by Fredericksburg’s Economic Development Authority at a cost of $27,000 to examine the viability of using public funds to invest so heavily in a sports team.
We know Gov. Phil Bryant likes the idea of minor-league baseball in Biloxi. He’s committed $15 million to the project from money BP gave him to compensate for the oil spill. We know Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway likes the idea. He wants the city to issue $21 million in bonds to help build a ball park on land leased from the Beau Rivage Casino.
But other than a “Field of Dreams” if-you-build-it-they-will-come faith, what else supports a public commitment?
There is, thankfully, time to find out.
When the plans were announced a few weeks ago, it sounded like a done deal.
But the Biloxi City Council has to weigh its options and the public ought to be given an opportunity to weigh in as well.
If this is going to be a long-term commitment by the city, then the time should be taken to get it right.

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