GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - State representatives have voted to pass a bill that would give $12 million to the Mississippi Development Authority for Gulfport's aquarium project. That money would come from casino tax revenue. Although the bill must still be signed by the governor, South Mississippians are already excited about what this sort of attraction would do for the city.
"We are a seafood industry, and it will be a good attraction. Somewhere else to take the kids so we don't have to travel out of town to go everywhere," said Isaac Simmons.
A bill to fund the multi-million dollar aquarium passed with flying colors on Monday. The next step is for Governor Phil Bryant to sign off. Residents are hoping he will, so construction can begin.
"If we can afford it, fantastic. I know we're still devastated after Katrina, and everything else. Our tourist revenue hasn't come up enough, so anything that can draw people down to the area is fantastic," said Ian Mcrae.
The $12 million would come over the next two years, and be used to purchase downtown land for the aquarium, improve the infrastructure needed to support the aquarium, and build the facility.
"I mean at least it's a good idea to give the kids something to do instead of being out in the heat. They can go look at fishes or tour guides. I know they will have other things in there besides an aquarium, summer camps, or probably something like that," said Joseph Rice.
It's still too early to decide what the aquarium will feature, but locals are already thinking about what they would like to see.
"Plenty of sharks you know, those are always exciting. People feeding the sharks, swimming with the sharks that would be really nice to see," said Simmons.
Tuesday, Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes will talk about the latest developments regarding the state funding.