Coast Coliseum Expansion Awaits Legislative Action - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

04/28/04

Coast Coliseum Expansion Awaits Legislative Action

Nearly 200 vendors of most every kind of interior and exterior home and garden design packed the convention center showroom to show off their wears. The home and garden show is the latest in a series of events at the coliseum and convention center complex. With the summer concert season heating up, it most certainly won't be the last.

"This weekend we've had a really good run at the home and garden show. The last several months, the trade shows have come in have been extremely well attended," Coliseum Director Bill Holmes said.

In fact Holmes says this is shaping up to be the busiest year in the Coliseum's 27 year history. It's another reason why improvements and expansion are badly needed.

"We've paid for two reports by outside consultants. The recommendation is 200,000 additional square feet. What we're looking at are a lot of people who want to come into this market. This is a beautiful destination. It makes a beautiful meeting site," Holmes said.

However the debate is nearly over for the much debated Coliseum and Convention Center expansion project. Lawmakers must act within the coming weeks on that bill and a whole host of others before the session ends May ninth. Still, Coliseum officials and local lawmakers believe there is still hope.

"The coliseum project certainly is a tough sell to the entire legislature," District 117 Representative Michael Janus said. "The coast delegation is on board, but any new taxes are certainly frowned upon during this session. We've got tight fiscal problems that we're working on right now. The fact that it's the house version with the two new cents in taxes makes it a tougher sale, but certainly we feel that we've got to do this in order to make the project economically viable."

Holmes says, "All we've asked from day one is allow us the additional space, the renovations, so we can compete with the Nashvilles, the Houstons, Atlanta, New Orleans. Those are the people we're competing against for the business, and we know we have the community. We want the facility. The people will be here, and they will come in droves, and spend millions of dollars."

by Don Culpepper

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