Convention center expansion complete; Now a hotel is needed - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Convention center expansion complete; Now a hotel is needed

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

By Doug Walker – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It took almost three years, and $80 million.  Now the vision of an expanded coliseum and convention center is reality.  From 180,000 square feet to more than 400,000, the new expansion is big and beautiful. 

Paula April is the marketing director for the complex.  She is busy these days, but wants to be even busier.

"Quite naturally, if you have hotel then you can go to the next level and book even more business and that's what we're trying to do is extend our market out so that we can get absolutely everything that's due us."

Before Katrina, there were motels near the coliseum, but the storm took care of that, leaving nothing but empty space.  Now there are five potential sites that could be used for a hotel. And not just any hotel, said Coliseum Director Bill Holmes.  

"If a developer were to select a site here on the grounds, we would expect that it would be a 400 to 500 room hotel and that it would be a major convention center flag, and we wouldn't accept anything less." 

While business has been brisk at the coast coliseum and convention center over the years, and has always been a fairly easy sell as well, Holmes said the job would be much easier with a hotel on premises.  

"Having a hotel on the property would allow us to compete harder with some of the bigger cities like Atlanta and Houston." 

Holmes said he met with two high powered developers last week with deep enough pockets to complete a deal.  If and when that happens, Holmes said Atlanta and Houston may end up looking over their shoulders at the coast.

Before any deal could be finalized, the coliseum commission would have to approve the plans.

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