The ripped cushions that fans sit in as they watch a hockey game are about to be replaced. Coliseum supporters got their wish.
"What you see back here is a core group," said coliseum director Bill Holmes, pointing to 25 people who fought for his convention center expansion project. "What you did today, you made history."
Members of the Committee For Our Coliseum nervously watched Tuesday's election results at a Gulfport hotel. They celebrated once they realized their message to tax hotel guests, raise $68 million, and use that money to expand the convention center got through to enough voters. Woody Bailey was chairman of the Committee For Our Coliseum. "I think the people of Harrison County believed in what was the right thing to do," Bailey said.
The additional two percent hotel tax pitted the coliseum group versus a grassroots committee with ties to Jackson. At times, the campaign got rather ugly. "Those that fought are now, we're going to join together," said Holmes. "We're going to make it a bigger, better place in the future, in the very near future we're going to get started."
The near future is two months away. The state will start collecting the additional two percent tax in January. Coliseum renovations will begin shortly after that. Right now, the expanded convention center is slated to open in 2007. The hotel tax will also pay for a new entrance into the coliseum off of Popps Ferry Road. Work on that project should get started next year.