Mississippi Braves will move to Georgia at the end of the 2024 season

Published 12:21 am Wednesday, January 10, 2024

The Mississippi Braves are leaving town.

The Atlanta Braves’ Double-A affiliate announced Tuesday that it will play one more season at Trustmark Park in Pearl, and then move to Columbus, Georgia in 2025.

“We want to thank Pearl, the surrounding Jackson community, and the state of Mississippi for the incredible support for the franchise over the past 19 years,” the team said in a statement announcing the move. “We have loved creating memories with you at Trustmark Park, and we look forward to bringing you an amazing 2024 season.”

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The M-Braves have played in Pearl since moving there from Greenville, South Carolina, in 2005. Their final season in Mississippi will begin April 9 against Biloxi.

In 2023 the team averaged about 2,500 fans per game at the 8,480-seat Trustmark Park, which ranked 29th out of 30 Double-A teams.

In mid-December news broke that Columbus, Georgia, was exploring $50 million in financing to renovate its 100-year-old municipal stadium and lure the M-Braves there. On Tuesday, the Columbus Council voted to approve a 20-year lease with Diamond Holdings, the company that owns the M-Braves to move the team to Georgia.

According to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, the city council has not yet voted to approve a bond issue for the $50 million that it will take to upgrade Golden Park to Double-A standards.

“This is an exciting day for Columbus and the result of hard work and dedication from a number of parties invested in the future of our community,” Columbus mayor Skip Henderson said.

In Mississippi, the departure of the M-Braves leaves a void in Pearl. Trustmark Park was the centerpiece of a commercial area that grew to include a Bass Pro Shops, Sam’s Club, and the Outlets of Mississippi mall over the past two decades.

The stadium has also hosted college games between the state’s Division I teams, the MHSAA high school baseball state championship series, and other community events in Pearl. It hosted the Conference USA baseball tournament in 2011 and 2012, when Southern Miss was a member of the league.

“We worked diligently with Spectrum Capital, State, and County leaders, as well as Diamond Baseball Holdings, to come to an agreement,” Pearl mayor Jake Windham told WAPT-TV. “It is truly unfortunate that despite our best efforts, the Braves have chosen to take this route.”

Bloomfield Equities built Trustmark Park with private funds, but the ballpark is operated by the City of Pearl.
In its statement announcing the move, the M-Braves said they are “hopeful” that another team will take their place even as they themselves are leaving.

Diamond Holdings purchased the team in 2021 and owns 27 other minor league teams as well.

“We are hopeful that this is not the end of professional baseball in Pearl, and our organization will support any efforts to bring a team to Trustmark Park in the future,” the team said in its statement.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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