Thursday, December 3, 2015

If you build it, will they come?

Was the mission to bring the Shuckers to Biloxi a quest for fool's gold or will it bring golden times?  Steve Wilson likes the project to a Field of Dreams gone bad over at  He reports:

In the Kevin Costner baseball movie “Field of Dreams,” a mysterious voice from the cornfield told Costner’s character Ray Kinsella if you build it, he will come.

But in Biloxi they didn’t come.

The city’s hopes that fans would line up — like at the end of the movie — for its taxpayer-funded minor league baseball stadium didn’t materialize. MGM Park averaged 3,459 fans in 46 home games, 541 fans per game short of the 4,000 average envisaged by a study commissioned by the city.

 The team, under its original lease with the city, was to pay $150,000 each year in rent plus a $2 surcharge on every ticket sold up to 231,250. The city, in a deal reached with the team, gave up that surcharge for the first two years of the 20-year lease in exchange for not having to pay additional fines of $10,000 per missed game if the stadium wasn’t open by June 1.

 Neil deMause, editor of the blog Field of Schemes and a book by the same name co-authored with Joanna Cagan, told Mississippi Watchdog that “attendance projections are made up out of whole cloth.”

The Biloxi Shuckers, the Double-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, were forced to spend the first two months of the season playing on the road as the contractor scrambled to finish the $36 million MGM Park, which didn’t open until June 6, two months behind schedule. The city, under its deal with the team, was forced to pay the Southern League $240,000 in fines for missed home games as the stadium’s completion date continued to slip.

The Shuckers even had the indignity of having to play some of their “home” games at the city they left, Huntsville, Alabama. As a result, the team’s average attendance was near the bottom of the Southern League at 2,604 fans. That’s still an improvement over the 1,460 fans per game the team drew in Huntsville in 2014.

The team didn’t return calls for comment.

The numbers pale in comparison with the opening of other new ballparks in the Double-A Southern League. In 2004, Montgomery, Alabama, opened Riverwalk Stadium and the Biscuits averaged 4,820 fans per contest. Trustmark Park opened in Pearl, Mississippi, the next year and the Mississippi Braves averaged 3,848 fans per game. Pensacola opened Bayfront Park in 2012 and 4,826 fans per game turned out to watch the Blue Wahoos. Birmingham’s team, the Barons, moved from suburban Hoover to Regions Park in downtown and 5,669 fans on average went through the turnstiles.

Both Mississippi baseball teams were lured from other cities — Greenville, S.C. (Braves) and Huntsville — with new stadium deals, financed with taxpayer dollars.

In 2013, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant announced plans to award $15 million in oil spill funds to the stadium, projected to cost $36 million. Biloxi voted to borrow $21 million in bonds to pick up the rest of the tab for the park.

Trustmark Park and the $100 million retail development surrounding the ballpark in Pearl opened in 2005 near the junction of Interstates 20 and 55. The city and Rankin County financed it with $78 million in bonds. Financing was also provided by a $7.5 million loan to Pearl for the $28 million ballpark’s construction.

Site developer Bloomfield Equities, owned by Spectrum Capital, got $8.1 million in state tax subsidies for the Bass Pro Shops across from the ballpark. Spectrum received $24 million in state tax subsidies to build its $80 million Outlets of Pearl adjacent to the ballpark.

The M-Braves drew 3,192 fans per game this year, up slightly from 3,150 in 2014. Both years, the M-Braves have been seventh in average attendance in the 12-team league. Article

Kingfish note: The city sold $21 million in bonds to build the stadium.  The professional service fees for the bond transaction are:

$21,000: Mississippi Development Bank (Issuer)
$12,000: Balch & Bingham (Issuer's counsel)
$60,000: Government Consultants, Inc. (Financial advisor)
$4,000: Hancock Bank (Trustee)
$74,500: Page Mannino, Peresich, & McDermott (bond counsel)
$52,500: Butler Snow (Disclosure counsel)
$5,000: Michael Collins (City Counsel)
$16,000: S&P Rating Serrvice
$500: Spence Flatguard (State bond attorney)

The story does not state it but Shuckers' attendance would have ranked fifth in the league.


Anonymous said...

Pales, PALES, in comparison to the hoodwinking of Jacktroit voters over the Convention Center where the million$ in operating losses have exceeded even the worst case pro forma used for the pre-election duping.

Anonymous said...

And...Jason Goree wants us to have a ball team up in her'!! Talk about another disaster for the city that used to be...

Anonymous said...

If only those who continue to beat the drum of Farish Street and the Entertainment District would look here. These are the kinds of missed attendance numbers we will see if they ever get that boondoggle of a street into a state where storekeepers can set up.

BB King's, which has to be a long lost deal by now, will require a high volume of visitors to stay in business. The city of Jackson does not have the tourist population to support such an establishment and the locals will flood it at first, then stop visiting. It seems there are far too many people who can't see past the grand opening festivities to anticipate the grand closing a few months later.

Anonymous said...

What ARE the numbers for the convention center. I remember Wyatt Emmerich being adamantly against this dog and receiving a lot of criticism. How right was he?

Anonymous said...

I've been trying for years to get an idea if the convention center was worth it. Annual reports on the city's website really don't tell too much.

Anonymous said...

So Ron Perisich "brought" the team to Biloxi, and his firm acted as bond Counsel? That is interesting.

Anonymous said...

How right was he?

Prescient. Dead Solid Prescient.

Anonymous said...

Jackson Convention Center

FY2011 LOSS: ($1,393,515)
FY2012 LOSS: ($1,150,649)
FY2013 LOSS: ($1,266,772)
FY2014 LOSS: ($1,215,579)

Anonymous said...

What is source for convention center numbers? Id like to see all of it. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Convention Center. Online. Go find it.

Anonymous said...

These projects never make financial sense. They are a quality of life project.

Heywood Sanders Predicted It All said...

August 31, 2015: The Convention Center That Ate Dallas

Late last year, after Philip Jones, the DCVB’s president, tossed out a plan to have taxpayers pay for a $300 million addition to the convention center, I took a look into the finances and found that it lost $37 million per year before debt service and $54 million after interest expense — amounts that were virtually identical to its losses prior to the opening of the half-billion-dollar city-owned Omni Convention Center Hotel in 2010 (one of the primary justifications for building the hotel was that it would drive more business to the convention center and stop its losses).

Heywood Sanders Predicted It All said...

That's not all. When projects fail and debt service mounts, consultants routinely conclude that the center needs a "headquarters hotel," which at the very least requires a large public subsidy. Sometimes the lack of developer interest results in the hotel being publicly owned. It's a classic example of finding yourself in a hole and continuing to dig.

Anonymous said...

Hey 12:19, if I knew how to look it up, I would not have asked.

Anonymous said...

2:24 - Learn how. Empower yourself. It's much better than helplessly whining and having to depend on others.

Anonymous said...

The Coast Coliseum and Convention Center in Biloxi was one of the few facilities in the nation that turned a profit. Bill Holmes did an excellent job managing that building. I am not sure how it fared after Katrina and with the addition of more modern competition in Pensacola and New Orleans.

Unfortunately, the spaceship-shaped building in Downtown Jackson has suffered from poor leadership and the inability to pulling anything larger than a comedy show or roller derby.

Then again, WHO would want to go to Jackson for a convention? Even Philadelphia and Natchez are better options.

Anonymous said...

Is there a fleecing of taxpayer money that Butler Snow is not involved in?

Anonymous said...

Figures 2011 - 2013.

Anonymous said...

The stadium and the team have generated a lot of excitement on the Coast. The games are well attended, and new businesses are opening in the surrounding area.

Anonymous said...

I remember when they named it the Telcom Center. It was going to leverage all of the telecommunications assets the area had and be a training and convention center. They couldn't even spell telecom right.

Don Drysdale said...

Right. There is just so little to do on the Mississippi coast. You find yourself there, wondering how you got there and what you'll do and flip a coin over the mall of the baseball game. Right.

Maybe if Con Maloney would go down and straighten out this mess.

It's 1979, isn't it? said...

Does Con Maloney still own the Jackson Mets?

Anonymous said...

Jackson Convention Center Board:

Fred Banks, Chairman
Leroy Walker, Vice-Chairman
John Hardy
Larry Hollingsworth
Mavis James
Duane O'Neill
Alan Walters

hm. Maybe Fred and the gang can explain those pesky $1 million per year losses?

Anonymous said...

My guess is that the number of tickets sold, as stated in the article, don't tell the whole story. I doubt all these people actually attended which means someone is buying up tickets they are not using. I predict next year will be worse. Bryant, Peresich, Palazzo and gang have made the tax payers investors in this deal. Too bad there is no upside to being an involuntary partner in a ball park.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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