Could Coliseum Expansion Be In Vain?

A new study by a Washington think tank says that cities across the county may be wasting money on expanding convention centers.

The study says cities are spending billions of dollars to build or expand convention centers. But that attendance at trade shows has dropped tremendously since 9/11.

Local coliseum officials say those findings do not apply here.

"Dr. Sanders reports from media and news databases which is only fed by their subscribers. So it doesn't reflect the entire picture," said coliseum and convention center director Bill Holmes.

Coliseum director Bill Holmes says South Mississippi wasn't included in that study.

Holmes says Biloxi, along with the other 44 cities throughout the nation who are undergoing coliseum expansion projects, must be on to something.

"Look at these big cities. Do you think that they're moving forward with these million square foot or 500,000 square foot expansions if the business is not there and they're not attracting it?" said Holmes.

As you may have guessed, Bill Holmes is one of many coliseum and convention center directors throughout the nation who will not let this new study deter him from what he considers progress.

He says with South Mississippi having so much to offer and with new developments going up each day, he says if the coliseum and convention is expanded and renovated, the people and the money, will come.

"This community has so much to offer conventioneers. It has so many things as far as natural resources and historical points of interests and restaurants and hotels and casinos, golf courses. It just goes on and on. So when they come, they get extremely excited and they go back and tell a lot of people," said Holmes.

He says the $68 million expansion and renovation will create a tremendous economic impact for the entire community, benefiting other industries like the airport, restaurants, and hotels.

"We have a very bright future, and we are growing," said Holmes.

Holmes says once the design architects are selected and a blueprint is in place, the coliseum will begin booking events three years in advance.

The expansion and renovation is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2007.