Businessman Questions Coliseum Expansion Talk

Tom Brosig sat at his kitchen table and analyzed Coliseum budget numbers from the past decade. "Now that I found out how it works," Brosig said, "I don't think this one works so good."

Brosig is one of the owners of the Mississippi Sea Wolves. He gathered this financial information last summer, while he worked out a new lease for the hockey team. Now, Brosig said, he was using it to point out that based on the audited report, the Coliseum hadn't made money since its 1997 expansion. So he wondered how it could afford more meeting space. "I just question whether or not another expansion is going to do anything for us," he said.

Coliseum director Bill Holmes is pushing for a convention center expansion. He also controls the facility's books. "It's a matter of accounting. On a cash flow basis," he said, "our cash flow has exceeded our expenses."

Holmes believes that once a funding mechanism can be approved, the convention complex can grow, and so can revenues for everybody on the coast. "This is the bread and butter of the future of the coast," he said as he walked down a convention center hallway, "meetings and conventions."

A study released in October said an additional 200,000 square feet of meeting space would do wonders for this facility, and for the area hotels, restaurants and other businesses that support it. The projected cost of the expansion could be $72 million. "Our record speaks for itself," said Holmes. "We've been a solid economic generator in this community for 27 years."

Tom Brosig didn't question that. He did question whether South Mississippi could afford another expansion. "I don't have the answers, don't get me wrong," said Brosig. "I'm not suggesting the Coliseum shouldn't be expanded. What I am suggesting is, everybody is jumping on this bandwagon without all the facts. And somebody should look at the facts."

Brosig and Holmes both used the same financial numbers. So why are their totals so different? Brosig said he used the Coliseum's audited financial report. It pointed out that the facility lost one-point-four million dollars. The number Holmes used was money available to the facility at any given moment. In that case, you factor in interest, and you leave out depreciation. That's why Holmes could say the facility had a net profit of $85,000.