HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - The Huntsville Stars might not finish their farewell tour in 2014 after all.
The Stars have been sold and are planning on moving to Biloxi, Mississippi in 2015.
However, Biloxi city officials learned Wednesday that the lowest contractor bid for a new stadium was at $32.27 million, some $5 million more than the initial budget. Though land has been cleared for a new ballpark adjacent to the Beau Rivage Casino, construction has not begun.
The Stars have one year remaining on their lease with the city of Huntsville for the use of Joe Davis. City officials are aware that what once appeared to be an advantage for the city to at least receive some financial restitution for the Stars' departure might now become a disadvantage in having to continue the operation of a stadium and make appropriate investments to continue play, hosting a team in a second "lame-duck" season.
The departure of the current franchise is imminent, whether following the 2014 playoffs (the Stars won the first-half Southern League North title to earn a berth in postseason) or after 2015.
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle told WHNT News 19 if the Stars stay in Huntsville next season he does not want the team to play part of the year here and another part in Biloxi.
As has been frequently reported, local leaders remain confident another franchise can be obtained within two or three years, likely to play in a downtown stadium and still playing in the Class AA Southern League.
Mayor Battle has met with Pat O'Connor, president of Minor League Baseball, and the mayor said any serious potential owners of a future Huntsville team are being directed to deal with O'Connor's office.
If a stadium is not completed, the city of Biloxi must pay a $10,000 fine for every game missed.