The Biloxi city council is hoping citizens will follow its lead and vote "yes" to a more modern and spacious Coast Coliseum and Convention Center. Tuesday afternoon the council unanimously threw its support behind an additional 2 percent hotel-motel tax to pay for the renovations.
The people pushing for a referendum that expands the Coast Coliseum and Convention Center needed the Biloxi city council's endorsement for a simple reason.
Robert Barq is on the Coliseum and Convention Expansion Committee.
"It makes a lot more people jump on board and realize that the city leaders are for the expansion," he said.
Council members wasted no time agreeing to back the 2 percent hotel-motel tax. They're looking forward to the competitive edge they believe more seating, more space and a new access road would create.
Mike Fitzpatrick of Ward 5 said, "We've got the hotel rooms. We've got the expanded airport and now we need an expanded Coliseum and Convention Center."
"We don't need to feel that we're overtaxing our tourists," said council member Tom Wall. "We still have a lot more to offer and charge a lot less for it."
Soon more cities will be asked to say "yes" to a better, improved coliseum. After that, supporters will take their message to anyone who will listen.
"We're going out to different organizations and talking," said Barq. "[We're] also going to neighborhoods and educating the public that this is a export tax. If you don't stay you don't pay."
The November referendum needs 60 percent support from Harrison County voters if the coliseum is going to be expanded.