MGM Park – Biloxi Shuckers
It’s a Shuckin’ Good Time
One of the newest members of Minor League Baseball’s Double-A Southern League is the Biloxi Shuckers. Originally founded in Nashville in 1978, the team would move on to Huntsville, Alabama in 1985 with the ascension of Nashville to the Triple-A level. The Huntsville franchise would be purchased by Baseball Biloxi and Ken Young for a move south to Biloxi, Mississippi. After a name the team contest, the Biloxi Shuckers were born, no doubt a nod to the strong seafood industry in the area. Ken Young brought MiLB experience to the table, also owning teams in Norfolk, Albuquerque, Bowie and Frederick Keys. The Shuckers are currently the Double-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Coinciding with the arrival of the Shuckers to Biloxi was the building of MGM Park. Built and owned by the City of Biloxi, MGM Park is neatly nestled along the busy Beach Boulevard. A 20 year naming rights deal was cemented with MGM Resorts International and the Shuckers would play their first Southern League game in 2015. Biloxi is a small city of only 45,000 and that southern charm is a part of the Shuckers experience.
Food & Beverage 5
Stadium Journey correspondent extraordinaire, Lloyd Brown once stated that Biloxi has the best food in Minor League Baseball and he might just be right. Expected items are available including ice cream, popcorn ($4.50), hot dogs ($4.25) chicken and fries. However, concessions go so much further than that. Pizza is provided by Papa John’s ($5). Other interesting items include Fried Chicken on a stick, smothered chicken, Buffalo Chicken, Garlic Fries, Chili Cheese Fries and dogs, Ham & Cheese, Fried Bologna and brats. The local fare, however, is right on point. Expected Bayou options include shrimp rolls, muffaletta, garlic butter oysters, jambalaya and shrimp and crawfish etouffee. For those looking for something a little more on the healthy side salads and fresh fruit are also available. For those with a sweet tooth, checking out the ice cream stand for the traditional baseball treat or fried apple pie a la mode or a mason jar root beer float, is a great idea. Believe it or not, all of this is available at three main concession windows on each side of the diamond as well as a few moveable carts.
Soda options are from Coca-Cola ($4.50/$5). Beer options are also solid with Yuengling products, Corona, Blue Moon, Miller Lite, Coors Light, Budweiser, Bud Light and Michelob Ultra ($7.50). A good plan would be to check out the concessions map on the Biloxi Shuckers website before hitting MGM Park.
From the exterior, MGM Park is pretty innocuous. That being said, with a capacity of just over 6,000, one would not expect a towering, intimidating structure. There is nothing that really stands out about the park, other than the golden lion, synonymous with MGM, that stands guard in front of the South Gate. The third base gate also does not blow you away with anything over the top.
Inside, once welcomed by the extremely friendly staff, fans will find a simple seating structure that is two levels high. The main seating area has basic stadium seats with around fifteen rows that stretches from foul pole to foul pole. Behind the seating area is the main concourse. Above the concourse is the press box and luxury boxes. Unfortunately, this ballpark lacks an interior concourse, which although is very simple, is absolutely necessary in the hot, Mississippi summer. During the pre-game, fans will huddle close to the far edge of the concourse to catch any possible piece of shade. More shaded areas are definitely needed for this park as there is no interior concourse where fans can seek refuge. One of the strategies the Shuckers have used is to manipulate the start times of games to maximize shade. For example, in the summer months, Sunday games have been moved to a 4:00 pm start from 2:00 pm. Slowly as the game progresses, the sun goes down behind the stadium and the shaded areas increase in size.
Some features of note at MGM Park include the view out in center field of the MGM owned, Beau Rivage Casino. In right-center field there is a modest, yet very clear, video board used for in game information. In left-center field there is a small ribbon-style board which is used for the running score. The park is a 360 degree facility for those who like a stroll during the game and right field has a small kids play area. The dimensions of the field are a simple 325-400-325. Since the Shuckers have only been around for a few years, there is little in the way of history displayed at the park. The lone retired number is Jackie Robinson’s number 42 on the right field fence. Also, beside the press box are a number of accolades that the Shuckers have accumulated. These include the 2015 Baseball America Team of the Year Award, MiLB Game of the Year and Southern League, South Division Championship. Also, the 2016 Southern League Patriot Award is displayed. On the other side of the press box is a display of the Minor League teams in the Milwaukee Brewers system that lead to the Majors.
The in-game presentation is about what you would expect from a team at this level. The date reviewed was Military Appreciation Day and as expected, the Shuckers wore special jerseys. The promo team does their thing and Schooner the Seagull, the team mascot, makes his way through the crowd and interacts with the fans. The Shuckers are apt to use goofy sound effects during the game. The one sound effect of note was the clucking of a chicken when the opposing pitcher throws to first in a pick-off attempt. The music is mostly contemporary.
If Biloxi is best known for beaches and casinos, then MGM Park is in the perfect location. Among the handful of casinos in the area, which gives Biloxi a bit of a Las Vegas vibe to it, the Beau Rivage is the most prominent and closest to the ballpark. Owned by MGM and located across the road from center field, the Beau Rivage also provides an amazing buffet for guests and the general public, which might be the best spot to eat near the park.
Fans can travel west on Beach Boulevard and run into Biloxi Beach. Right on the Gulf of Mexico, Biloxi Beach has been heavily refurbished since the effects of Hurricane Katrina and features soft, white sandy beaches for the public. East of the park, fans can find the Hurricane Katrina memorial and northwest of the park, fans can find Beauvoir House, the former home of the first and only Confederate President, Jefferson Davis.
As far as other sporting options go, there are not too many in Biloxi. Fans visiting are not too far from New Orleans, which is a major sports city, and Hattiesburg, which features the athletic teams of Mississippi State.
Fans travelling to the Gulfport have the opportunity to say in one of the surrounding casinos, including the Beau Rivage, Harrah’s or the Hard Rock. All are easily within walking distance of the park. For those who do not wish to stay in a casino, the Best Western Oak Manor is right beside the park.
Biloxi Shuckers fans are generally a laid back and quiet crowd. They are friendly and knowledgeable about baseball and their team. As expected, the volume increases significantly when the Shuckers are doing something good. Attendance, however, has not been a run-away success. In the 2016 through 2018 seasons, the Shuckers ave averaged over 2,500 fans, a far cry from a sell-out. As compared to other teams in the Southern League, this puts Biloxi in either 7th or 8th place in the ten team league.
Getting to MGM Park is not a huge challenge for fans. Located basically at Beach Boulevard and I-10, travel by car is fairly simple. However, Beach Boulevard is a very busy street and manoeuvring it can be a challenge at times.
Unfortunately, upon entering the Park on the east side, fans are greeted with a rather large set of stairs. Keep the nearby wheelchair ramp in mind if necessary. The east gate also features the box office, which is not overly crowded and ticket purchasing is simple.
For the size of the park and city, getting around the park once inside is relatively easy and the washrooms are huge. Unlike most parks, there are only two sets of each, but they are massive and more than adequate.
Return on Investment 4
Going to a Biloxi Shuckers game offers great value. Tickets for the Shuckers range from $50 to $7. The vast majority of seats are in the $12 range, including seats right behind the plate. Club seats run from $50 to $24 and General Admission tickets are $7. Finding parking is not an issue and can be free and concession prices are about what one would expect. The production of the game is strong and the product on the field is also good. Fans should choose their seats wisely especially if they want to beat the heat.
Two extra marks for the city of Biloxi having rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina. The area around the ballpark shows no ill-effects of the disaster currently and is definitely a great spot for tourists to stay. It’s a testament to the hard work of the city and state.
An extra mark for an underrated city which is slightly off the beaten path.
An extra mark for a great partnership between the gaming industry and the Shuckers.
For Ballpark Chasers, a trip through Mississippi is a natural and a stop in Biloxi a necessity. However, Biloxi is a solid stop for average baseball fans who are looking for a bit of a different experience. The Biloxi Shuckers offer a great baseball experience and an outstanding concession lineup. A trip to MGM Park in Biloxi is definitely a Shuckin’ good time!
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Food and Drink Recommendations
Hard Rock Cafe Hotel & Casino
777 Beach Blvd
Biloxi, MS 39530
Best Western Oak Manor
886 Beach Blvd
Biloxi, MS 39530
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Latest Crowd Reviews
A temperate climate, miles of beaches, casinos, great baseball and a brand new stadium make this a “must-do” on your baseball stadium list. To paraphrase an old saying, “Biloxi is your oyster”… so come on down and enjoy Shuckers ball!
Nets run to the end of the dugouts. A beer garden is down the end of the first base line so head there if domestic beers are not your thing. Not much room is available to retreat under cover if a rain delay occurs but fans are so pleasant it is okay to be a tad cramped/crowded for a bit. They have a great radio announcer who does a pre-game show recorded on the field. Nice. MGM Park has plenty to see and do within walking distance. A Best Western right next door, casinos, the beach, a Hard Rock Cafe, historic district to walk. Downtown streets were closed due to construction on my visit. Hopefully that will be complete by the end of the season.