MGM Park – Biloxi Shuckers
Photos by Matt Colville, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
MGM Park 906 Beach Blvd Biloxi, MS 39530
Year Opened: 2015
In 2005 the Mississippi Gulf Coast received a direct hit from Hurricane Katrina. The destruction of the 20-foot storm surge and 150 mph winds was catastrophic. With the coast practically wiped off the map on that day it was a wonder if the coast would ever recover. Flash forward 17 years and the coast is thriving again, perhaps better than before, and if coming to Biloxi today you will have a hard time telling that anything happened on that fateful day in August 2005.
One symbol of hope and resilience for the region is the Biloxi Shuckers, who were born in 2015 when the Milwaukee Brewers moved their Double-A team from Huntsville as the first affiliated minor league baseball team to ever play in Biloxi. The Shuckers name is fitting for a team in an area like this, as the Gulf Coast is known for its oyster harvesting, and ‘shucking’ is the slang word for picking oysters.
The Shuckers play at MGM Park, which opened midway through the 2015 season. This 6,000-seat ballpark is situated less than 100 yards from the beaches of the Gulf Coast. Biloxi is known as a casino destination, and MGM Park sits right in the middle of all the casino action. The luxurious Beau Rivage Casino, a giant lit-up guitar, and Hard Rock Casino line the backdrop at MGM Park, providing a scene of glitz and glamour that remains unmatched at any ballpark in the country. A night game at MGM Park will almost make you feel like you are in a mini-Vegas, and it’s almost a surreal feeling knowing this was the scene of so much destruction back in August 2005.
Food & Beverage 4
When you play in a city known for such great seafood, you can expect nothing less when it comes to the food options at MGM Park, which features six permanent concession stands, each selling a different themed menu, as well as several temporary stands open for select games. Each stand is located on the open concourse so you will never miss a pitch. Down the first baseline, you will find three permanent stands: Home Plate Dogs which sells hot dogs and sausages with prices ranging from $4-$7, Shuck ‘n Cluck which sells chicken tenders and fries as a combo for $10, and Papa John’s pizza which sells pizza by the slice for $3.50.
Also, with a name like Shuckers of course they have oysters on the menu – down the first base line toward right field is the Aw Shucks Grill, which sells southern-themed items; you can buy jambalaya in a souvenir baseball helmet, grilled and fried oysters, fried shrimp, and boudin sandwiches. Unfortunately, the Aw Shucks Grill is only open for select games, usually weekend games.
The third baseline features an endless supply of concessions as well – the Beacon Grill offers different burgers with prices between $10 and $11, while Pearl’s Po’boys offers shrimp and regular po’boys. There is also a second Shuck ‘n Cluck stand (mentioned above) located on the third base line. Both the first and third base lines also feature a Shuckers Snack stand as well, which sells nachos, popcorn, or jumbo pretzels for $5, and peanuts or cotton candy for $4.
For beverages, Coca-Cola is the official soft drink provider, and an interesting fact about Biloxi is that Barq’s Root Beer was actually founded just a couple of blocks from MGM Park. Behind home plate is Barq’s Creamery serving root beer floats and ice cream served out of mini helmets. The Shuckers also have two beer gardens located on each side of the concourse, both offering different draft beers (domestic and local) for $10.
The good thing about the Shuckers is they promote the local Gulf Coast breweries, serving beer brewed on the coast. At the beer gardens, you’ll find many different local breweries, with beers served on drafts such as Lazy Magnolia and Southern Prohibition. The Shuckers also partnered with a local brewery for the first time in 2022 to develop their own beer “Let’s Go Shuckers” brand beer.
Situated less than 100 yards off the beach, MGM Park has perhaps one of the best views in all of minor league baseball. Just beyond the outfield wall sits the 32-story Beau Rivage Casino and the Hard Rock Casino, providing a beautiful view that no other ballpark in the Southern League provides.
From the outside MGM Park seems kind of small. The park was built right next to an interstate overpass to the west, and with the casinos towering over the stadium to the south it can easily be overlooked if you are driving by on Highway 90. They recently built a parking garage on the south side of the stadium, so that takes up a lot of the view now from the highway.
Because of frequent hurricanes and flooding, the concourse at MGM Park is elevated. There are two entrances into the park, and unlike most minor league ballparks there is no entrance behind home plate. Instead, the main entrance and ticket booth are beyond the centerfield fence. Take note of the beautiful grounds around the main entrance, including a lush rose garden and a giant golden lion representing the logo for MGM, the parent owner of the luxury casino across the street. The park’s beige appearance ties into the Beau Rivage as well, as it is all the same color, making it seem like the ballpark is a part of the casino, which it kind of is.
The field faces southeast with the field dimensions being 325-401-325. One thing I like about MGM Park is that the outfield wall is not covered with signs and sponsors. Instead, just a couple of local casinos and beer companies advertise there, and that is it. A large ‘Visit Mississippi’ ad rises above the left field wall, while the giant video board sits in the right field. In terms of retired numbers or banners, there is a huge ‘Road to Milwaukee’ mural on the third base side that features all the Brewers minor league team logos. The Shuckers have been to three Southern League Championships, losing all three, so there isn’t much in terms of championship banners except the ‘Minor League Team of the Year from 2015 displayed above the concourse.
The seating bowl holds about 6,000 seats and features about 18 rows of beautiful chairback seats in a wraparound configuration, with excellent views from anywhere you walk in the park. The right field features berm seating, called Schooner’s Fun Zone, and a couple of picnic tables, while beyond the left field is the street. Down the left field line is the Left Field Terrace, which features tabletop and loge seating, and an exclusive food menu.
The concourse features the aforementioned concessions stands, as well as a team store behind home plate. One positive about this ballpark is that it’s the perfect size for you to get a great view from anywhere you go in the stadium. One drawback is that there is not much cover to give the fans shade or provide relief from frequent Mississippi summer thunderstorms – the team store and parking garage across the street are the only places to go for the cover should a shower pop up.
The upper level features a third-base party deck – the party deck features seating for about 30 people and features a buffet. During summer games you’ll also get excellent breezes coming off the Mississippi Sound and beautiful views of the Gulf Coast waters. The upper level also features the Kloud7 Sky Box, which features indoor and outdoor table seating, as well as a full-service bar with televisions and a full restaurant-style menu. In terms of suites MGM Park features 12 of them; each can hold up to 12 people and features food and drinks, television access, and indoor and outdoor seating. One of the suites is themed after the Milwaukee Brewers, and features various Brewers-themed artifacts on display.
Biloxi is a pretty small city of about 48,000 located right off the beaten path, about 90 miles east of New Orleans. The city still retains that small-time feel evident in most towns in Mississippi, but Biloxi is also the nightlife destination for the state as well. Biloxi is an extremely popular gaming destination that attracts millions of visitors every year and is often referred to as the Vegas of the South.
Biloxi features nine high-rise casinos, each offering its own themes and amenities. You cannot put a ballpark in a more prime location than MGM Park – the stadium sits less than 100 yards from the waters of the Mississippi gulf, conveniently located right downtown near most of the attractions in Biloxi.
If you are into gambling you can go from the ballpark to playing whatever casino game you want in less than 10 minutes. Mississippi also recently legalized sports betting, so you’ll be able to bet on any sporting event you can imagine before the ballgame (minor league games are not available to bet on). Even if you aren’t into gambling, I would recommend giving yourself time to walk around the two casinos before or after the game.
The inside of the Beau Rivage is absolutely stunning – the first floor features an upscale shopping center and restaurants, as well as beautiful, lush tropical gardens that have to be seen for yourself. The Beau also features plenty of restaurants and entertainment options, as it regularly attracts big-name acts, and even has a virtual top golf area where you can hit a golf ball at a virtual screen.
The Hard Rock next door is a pretty cool casino as well and attracts the younger mid to late-20s crowd. Hard Rock features numerous restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, and features a nice display of famous memorabilia from top-name music acts in the lobby. All of the casinos in Biloxi have their own unique features, and there is a trolley stop right out in front of the stadium for travel from casino to casino. Even if you are not into gambling, it’s something fun for people to do while in Biloxi.
There are also plenty of restaurants in the downtown area within walking distance of MGM Park. Half Shell Oyster House, Fields Steak & Oyster, Patio 44, Mugshots, Sal & Mookie’s Pizza, The Fill Up, and the oldest restaurant on the Gulf Coast, Mary Mahoney’s Old French House, are just some of the restaurants in the neighborhood within walking distance. For bars, you can walk to Morgan Freeman’s Ground Zero Blues Club, Adventures Pub & Spirits, The Sandbar, Mermaid Bar, and The Fillin’ Station, located in an old 50s-style gas station.
If you want to stay near the park there are plenty of hotels along the Beach you can stay at, however, the closer you are to the water the more expensive they’ll be. For a cheaper alternative, I’d recommend driving up the interstate a few miles to D’Iberville and staying at one of the hotels there.
For the Shuckers, the first seven seasons’ attendance has not been as great as hoped for. The Shuckers average about 2,400 fans per game, which places them near the bottom of the Southern League. One thing hurting attendance at MGM Park is that college sports dominate the fanbase in Mississippi, so Minor League Baseball often takes a back seat for a lot of people in the state.
When the Shuckers play this place isn’t full, but when Southern Miss or Mississippi State play a neutral site game here, expect a standing room-only crowd where you can barely walk on the concourse. The games with the most attendance will be the summer weekend games when they capitalize on the weekend casino crowd. If you go during the week or on a Sunday afternoon there won’t be as big of a crowd.
Despite the lack of fans, the Shuckers organization does a great job of entertaining the people in attendance. The mascot is a giant seagull named Schooner and he is a constant presence interacting with the kids in the crowd, and taking part in the various games in-between innings – the crawfish race is always a favorite among the kids in attendance. Crawfish is a southern delicacy and one of the main things you boil with the crawfish is potatoes and corn so in the bottom of the 5th inning mascots dressed as a crawfish, potato, and corn cob all race from right field to home plate.
The Shuckers also have a wide variety of promotions and giveaways throughout the season. For example, they’ll wear different color jerseys to match the theme of that night’s promotions. Biloxi is a huge military town, so for military-related promotions, they’ll wear camouflage, while for Jackie Robinson Day they’ll wear the old yellow and blue Biloxi Dodgers uniforms from the Negro Leagues. But my favorite jersey combo is on New Orleans Saints Night when the Shuckers invite several currents and former Saints players to the game, and the team wears black and gold Saints-inspired jerseys.
The best part about coming to MGM Park is just how easy it is to get here. The park is conveniently located right on the beach at the corner where the I-110 overpass meets Beach Blvd. I-110 is a north-south branch of I-10 about five miles north of the city. If coming from out of town just take I-110 to exit 22 onto I-110 in D’Iberville, and then go south for about ten minutes until you get to the beach. The first view you’ll get when you arrive in Biloxi is the giant Beau Rivage in front of you, and you can’t miss the park to the left of the overpass.
For parking unfortunately the Shuckers do not have a public parking lot on site. However, there are over 8,000 parking spaces within a 15-minute walk of the stadium. For paid parking directly across the street to the north, there is a small lot charging $5, and under the overpass, on Howard Ave they charge $5 to park. My favorite place to park is across the street at the Beau Rivage parking garage, where it’s free to park and a covered walkway that crosses busy Beach Blvd. MGM Park did recently build a parking garage on-site in left field, but it is for employees and players only.
Return on Investment 3
Individual tickets for Shuckers games are priced as follows – General Admission for $12 (three sections down the third base line and five sections down the first base line); Dugout Box Club seating for $14 (four sections behind each dugout); and the Home Plate Box Club for $15 (three sections behind home plate). Most games won’t come close to a sellout. so you shouldn’t ever have any trouble getting tickets.
There aren’t very many places where you can go to the beach, go to a casino, and then walk across the street to watch a baseball game, so I consider this a great experience. You won’t have to fight traffic and crowds, you will get a great view of the game, and you can park for free – you can’t beat that.
One extra for the unprecedented trials the Shuckers had to go through during their first year as a franchise in 2015 – due to political, financial, and environmental issues the opening of MGM Park ended up being delayed until mid-way through the season, so the Shuckers had to go on a 54-game, eight city, 2,800-mile road trip playing all their games on the road and some games in their former home in Huntsville. By mid-June MGM Park finally opened to great fanfare. The Shuckers ended up making it to the Southern League Championship that first year though, and were named Minor League Baseball’s Team of the Year in 2015.
Another extra for Biloxi’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina. Now if you come to Biloxi there is no sign of the deadly storm, which is quite remarkable considering how it looked then. If you have some time to walk around before the game I recommend the Hurricane Katrina Memorial, which is located about a block east in the town green. There is a water marker there that shows just how high the storm surge was. Also scattered throughout the park are tree stumps with various coastal art inscribed – these are actually the remains of dead trees that were destroyed during Katrina.
Another extra for the great marketing job the Shuckers have done. Some minor league teams have generic nicknames and mascots, but the Shuckers have a nickname that is unique, charming, funny, and specific to the Gulf Coast. It’s a shame that more people don’t attend games here because the Shuckers have really capitalized on the culture of the Gulf Coast region as a whole.
MGM Park is the only ballpark in the country where you can watch baseball on the beach while eating fried oysters or jambalaya, all while a giant seagull entertains fans, and a giant crawfish runs around in-between innings. Everything here ties into the culture and uniqueness that makes the Mississippi Gulf Coast so special; this is a great job of local branding that the Shuckers did.
Also, of course, one extra for the beautiful view of the casino skyline at MGM Park. On a clear day from different vantage points of the stadium, you can see all of Biloxi’s eight casinos. From the Beau Rivage and the beach across the street, you can go from the stadium to the beach and to gambling in less than 10 minutes, and I can’t think of any other ballpark you can do that at.