Community Groups Question Biloxi Stadium PlanBy Evelina Burnett | Published 17 Jun 2013 10:40am |
Community groups in Biloxi are voicing concern about a plan to bring a $36 million minor league baseball stadium to the city. They have until tomorrow to gather signatures to force a referendum on a planned bond issue for the project.
More than 200 supporters of the planned stadium held a rally last Friday. Proponents hope city leaders will hear their voices and agree to take the next step on a $21 million bond issue that will pay for part of the stadium. The state has also agreed to pitch in $15 million. Cliff Kirkland of Biloxi organized the rally and says that the stadium would provide great family entertainment and a boost to the downtown area.
A coalition of citizens and community groups is trying to gather 1,500 signatures in an attempt to put the bond issue to a vote. Toshja Brown is with the Steps Coalition, a Biloxi nonprofit that’s part of the group organizing the petition. She says that since taxpayers are footing the bill, they should have some say in the process.
Ron Peresich, an attorney working on the deal for Biloxi, says tomorrow’s vote gives the city’s financial advisors the go-ahead to negotiate the terms of the bond. The council will still have to vote to issue the bonds, probably in mid or late July. Peresich says there will be time for public debate before then, but a referendum would delay the process 6o to 90 days. This would set back construction, meaning that the stadium would probably not be ready for the spring season, possibly killing the deal.
The community coalition needs to have the signatures collected by tomorrow’s Biloxi city council meeting at 1:30 p.m.
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