Coliseum Expansion Underway, Renovations Slower Coming - - The News for South Mississippi

Coliseum Expansion Underway, Renovations Slower Coming

The Coast Coliseum and Convention Center is building back bigger and stronger than ever. The expansion that will double the size of the convention center is well underway, but the renovation work is a different story. Soaring construction costs and operational expenses have slowed things down.

When the expansion of the convention center wraps up next year, the facility will offer about 400,000 square feet of meeting space, but the existing convention center will be back open for business soon, by the second week of January.

"We have the hairdressers, 6,000 strong coming. The teachers are coming. The Municipal Association's coming in, the supervisors, the big carpet company that's bringing in 2,000 or 3,000. You have the Gaming Summit planning to come back," said Bill Holmes, the Coast Coliseum and Convention Center's Executive Director.

The work is being paid for by bond and FEMA money.The expansion of the facility is well underway, but the renovations work is slower coming.

"The renovation is set back a little bit. Hopefully, it will be done by this summer. About 30 percent of the facility's parking space is gone because that is where the convention center is expanding; but Holmes says 400 additional parking spaces will open up  just north of the Convention Center in the next few years, when FEMA workers who park there leave. In the meantime, Holmes says, please be patient with the facility's growing pains.

"It's impacted our parking lots. That's why we're asking the people who are coming to our events in the arena, please try to come early," Holmes said.

The renovation work at the the convention center includes new flooring, new walls and a different color scheme with a marine motif. The convention center will also be built sturdier in compliance with federal standards.

The price tag for all this work is about $100 million.

By Toni Miles 

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