Nearly a year after Harrison County voters said yes to major expansion and renovation, there are now visible signs of progress at the Coast Coliseum. Employees are in the process of taking out thousands of chairs to be refurbished. New seating may be small part of the $68 million expansion and renovation but as the first major project, it's an important one. Officials say when people are finally able to see improvements taking place, they'll know they made the right choice.
Softer and cozier. Thousands of Coliseum seats are headed to a factory in Michigan and coming back better.
"The comfort level is going to be so much greater because of a higher back seat and a thicker cushion," said director Bill Holmes. "The material was selected because it's like a sport weave. It's a multi-colored material, and I think the public will really like it."
Workers are taking out the chairs in phases so the coliseum can still accommodate conventions and concerts. Officials say over time all nine thousand permanent seats will be refurbished.
Bill Holmes said the standards and seat bottoms will also be redone. "We were able to send back, completely strip down and reuse. The cost of steel has gone up so much that by redoing these standards and the bottoms were able to save $300,000 out of the project."
Other signs of change at Coliseum are on the way. Holmes says bids are already out for other improvements like renovated rest rooms and a new state of the art marquee. He says the new sign will use half the electricity, and there are other bonuses.
"We can no longer buy parts for the existing marquee. It's incandescent lights. We're having trouble finding parts for it, and if you look at it it's in really bad condition."
Coliseum director Bill Holmes says he expects all permanent seating to be redone by December. Holmes also says the groundbreaking for the convention center expansion should take place around May.