Opening day for MGM Park turned out to be well worth the wait. The fan experience was mostly positive, and the team graciously gave us four innings of free baseball before pulling out a thrilling victory. Here’s a few observations, and let me know if you agree.
First of all, I will say this because someone needs to. Where was Barry Lyons? Of all people that needed to be there tonight, it was him. Sure, Bennett and Ford and Holloway (and to a lesser extent Bryant and Gilich) had reason to be there and bask in the spotlight of opening night, but no one, and I mean no one, deserved it more than Mr. Lyons. He is the one man who kept the dream alive all these years before others did, and figuratively kept a candle light on the idea alive of professional baseball on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I have no qualms in saying that if it weren’t for Barry Lyons, there would be no Biloxi Shuckers here today. That he wasn’t here and featured in the opening ceremonies is a disservice.
Before the game, there was a breeze to left, and guys in BP were knocking balls over the left field fence. We thought man this could be the start of something epic, but as it turned out the wind shifted to right for the game, and we didn’t get see the first homer.
Anybody else notice folks watching the game from the roof of the Beau Rivage parking garage? Shades of Wrigleyville in Chicago.
What we liked –
- Arriving a little before 3:30, traffic and parking weren’t really that much of a problem.
- The crowd was family-oriented (showing how starved this area was), knowledgeable, and supportive
- The seats were comfortable (with cup holders, yay!) and easy to get to and from.
- Concessions were varied (Brats!? Well, we are a Brewers farm club, and hey I like brats), the lines manageable, and the staff friendly.
- The program was actually interesting to read.
What we disliked. Most of these I hope can be marked down to opening night issues, and will be ironed out straight away –
- Even though the city was having a Game Day Experience all through the area, the Shuckers team store on MLK Jr Drive still closed at 3:00. They missed a lot of sales. Then the store in the stadium stayed prohibitively overcrowded seemingly the whole game, leading me to follow the Yogi advice: “That place was so crowded, nobody goes there.”
- I was told to come back later for a root beer float. 😦
- It was stuffy and insufficiently ventilated in the bathrooms. My wife confirms the same for the Women’s bathrooms.
- The player introductions were muffed by the PA. We were introduced to all the Bay Bears by name, down to the trainer, but the Shuckers were just allowed a hurried group wave, with no individual introductions. Buzzkill. That crowd really wanted to cheer each and every Shucker.
- The scoreboard operator too often fell behind the action on the field. No excuse for that.
- The screen behind home plate seemed kind of small. I’m sure it’s regulation length…
- The walk back through the Vieux Marche and through a side street back to the car, around midnight, was little a anxious for families with small children, as we passed the night clubs along the way.
Overall, though, it was a great experience tonight, and I am thrilled we finally have our Biloxi Shuckers home!