Coliseum Feeling Effects Of Economy

"In 23 years, this is the worst that we've seen, but that's why we're taking action now," Mississippi Coast Coliseum Director Bill Holmes said.

His annual budget of $3.2 million is down so far by a quarter of a million dollars. He says a combination of an already slow economy and the recent attacks are really affecting the coliseum business.

"Approximately five weeks ago, we saw this downturn in the economy, and we laid off about 5 percent of our staff. We had to do that because the budgets are out of whack," Holmes said.

He says his staff of 47 is down to 36. But he says that was just the beginning. He met for three hours Wednesday afternoon with his department heads to look at other ways to reduce expenses in each department.

"This is a problem that's impacted the country. We've seen the downturn coming but then since Sept. 11th. It's caused a tremendous economic impact."

Holmes says many of the conventions scheduled right now are regional, meaning delegates can drive from their houses to the coliseum. He stated that across the country, many convention centers in major markets are hurting, because a lot of people are afraid of flying to certain places.

Holmes says none of the conventions that have already been scheduled has canceled. But he says what's really hurting his budget is the concert bookings.

"There's not a lot of concerts moving right now. Even here in our market people are apprehensive about coming into large crowds."