baseball

Baseball Stadiums: MGM Park

The newest stadium in the Southern League opened nearly two years ago to much fanfare, as the stadium endured numerous construction delays and the team played its first 25 home games on the road at a number of different ballparks (read more here).  So I was thrilled when I finally got to attend a Biloxi Shuckers home game this summer. However, I did not plan the date to attend the game.  My wife Katie scoured the Shuckers promotional scheduled picked the date because the team was giving away a bobblehead commemorating outfielder Brett Phillips chasing away an opossum (see video here).

So after visiting Biloxi Brewing Company, which is just a few blocks from the stadium, we walked over to the ballpark to make sure we were in line to secure our bobbleheads.  So while we waited, I got a few pictures of the main entrance.

Main entrance.

There were significantly more people at the north entrance to the ballpark, but the more interesting view on that side of the stadium was the outfield gates that were adorned with images of former players.

Gate on north side of stadium covered with images of former players who have played in MLB.

Once we entered the stadium and claimed our bobbleheads (more on that later), we walked around the concourse checking out food options.  However, I was most concerned about getting a photo of the game’s starting lineups.

Starting lineups for the Birmingham Barons vs. Biloxi Shuckers on July 14.

After having some beers before walking to the stadium, neither Katie nor I were particularly hungry.  So we checked out the team store and I took advantage of the opportunity to capture a few pictures of the visiting Birmingham Barons and the home Shuckers warming up before the game.

While watching warm ups we opted to get a beer at the Buena Vista Beer Garden, which is along the right field line close to the home team’s bullpen.  There are 24 beers available on draft there, which is the most available at any one location in the stadium.  Half of the 24 taps are dedicated to local and regional craft breweries with Abita, Lazy Magnolia, and Biloxi Brewing each having four taps at the stand.

The Buena Vista Beer Garden is the go-to spot for craft beer at the stadium.

There are other spots in the stadium where you can get beer, and specifically craft beer.  For example, the True Blue Brew Crew stand and The Sand bar both feature a selection of macrobrews and craft beers.  These two spots are along the first base line close to the team store.  So with drinks in hand, we ventured to our seats and I waited to take my usual photo of the game’s first pitch.

Biloxi Shuckers starting pitcher Jon Perrin delivering the first pitch to Birmingham Barons shortstop Eddy Alvarez.

After capturing the first pitch, I decided to capture a few more photos of game action before returning to my seat.

Once I returned to my seats, which were awesome with many thanks to the great staff at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau, I felt like I needed a photo to capture how amazing the view was from our seats.

Game action with Barons pitcher Michael Kopech and Shuckers batter Michael Choice.

After watching a few innings of play, Katie and I decided to consider our food options and decided to examine the concession stands along the concourse.  While we opted to visit each stand to find out what they offered, the Shuckers also have a flip board with a map of “Food Finds” that helps fans find specific items.

A map of “Food Finds” helps fans locate each concession stand and portable stand throughout the stadium.

So what did we see as we explored the concourse and checked out our food options…

When it comes to food, the Shuckers do a superb job.  As you can see from the previous photos, they ballpark has all the baseball staples like hot dogs, chicken tenders, and even pizza.  Fans can also find more local flavors like po’ boys and local BBQ.  My wife and I asked people before we went to the game what we should eat and we asked some of the employees for suggestions, and we got a LOT of recommendations.  So it was difficult to decide what to eat because we didn’t keep hearing the same chorus of eat at a particular stand or order a particular item.

Considering that we came for the weekend to enjoy the beach, Katie and I felt like the natural choice was to order seafood.  Choosing seafood led us to the Aw Shucks Gulf Grill, but then the choices got more difficult.  The menu includes garlic butter oysters, jambalaya, red beans and rice stuffed Cajun sausage, beer brats, and grilled boudin.  We struggled to choose just ONE item, but thankfully we didn’t have to pick just one.  We ordered the Grand Slam Gulf Grill!

Everything in the Grand Slam Gulf Grill was fantastic.  We probably ordered AND ate way too much food, but it was by far the best food option at the park to split between two people.  By far the best part of our dining experience was that we ate something that is genuinely unique to Biloxi.

After eating and becoming stuffed on all that great seafood, I felt like it was appropriate to walk around a bit and get a few more pictures of the stadium to show off the luxury suites, kids’ area, and the grandstand.

After walking off some of the food, I remembered that I had not taken a picture of the item that Katie and I claimed when we walked in the gates: the Brett Phillips and opossum bobblehead.

A bobblehead commemorating a game during the 2016 when outfielder Brett Phillips chased away a possum.

The bobblehead itself is great, and I’m excited to have it in my collection.  However, it’s also cool because the bobblehead includes an audio recording of Brett Phillips laughing.  Phillips’s laugh is so notorious that it has been the focus of multiple articles (read one here).

Shortly after photographing the bobblehead, we got to watch a staple of Shuckers’ games: the Crawfish Boil Race.  It features a race between Spud (a potato), Kernel Cobb (an ear of corn), and Crawford (a crawfish).

Spud, Kernel Cobb, and Crawford prepare for the Desporte & Son’s Seafood Market & Deli Crawfish Boil Race.

But something different was afoot this night…

A possum appeared out of nowhere to win the Desporte & Son’s Seafood Market & Deli Crawfish Boil Race.

As we watched the end of the Crawfish Boil Race, I hoped to get a picture with the team’s seagull mascot, Schooner.  Sadly we remained elusive until we were leaving the stadium.

Katie and I with Shuckers’ mascot Schooner.

It’s the first time I’ve taken a picture with a mascot outside the stadium after the game had ended, but getting that photo with the team mascot is always an important part of enjoying the full gameday experience.

There’s no doubt the Biloxi Shuckers provide a great gameday experience at MGM Park.  From the start of our visit with free parking at the parking deck next to the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino to a unique giveaway item to excellent local beer and food options to fun in-game entertainment like the Crawfish Boil Race to getting our photo taken with the team mascot at the end of the game, we enjoyed the quintessential Minor League Baseball experience along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Final Score: Birmingham 3, Biloxi 1
Box Score

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