BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich has wanted to give east Biloxi - from downtown to the Point - an economic shove with a $150 million convention center complex. He also wants to make sure that the move makes sense.
This week, he may get his answer.
On Monday, the city’s administration will get the final version of a feasibility study for a convention center, hotel and amphitheater. If approved, it could mean more jobs and more revenue for the city.
“The final report will tell us whether that’s the case and if so, what the best location is and also, hopefully, what the funding mechanism would be and the cost for operating and maintaining it going forward,” said Cliff Kirkland, the city’s innovation and development officer.
The $100,000 feasibility study, which is by the company CSL and paid for by the city’s development partner BBR Biloxi, is for a convention center, hotel and amphitheater. Several areas are under consideration, including the old Tullis-Toledano House property between the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art and Harrah’s. Kirkland said it’s all about putting convention space with hotel rooms.
“We have 7,200 hotel rooms in Biloxi right now,” he said. “We have another 600-700 on the drawing board already announced and haven’t started construction yet. The great majority of those are in east Biloxi. To be able to attract national conventions - sizable conventions - and more conventions to our community down here, we need to utilize those hotel rooms.”
Coastal Mississippi CEO Milton Segarra said it makes sense to locate a new convention center in east Biloxi, and he doesn’t see it as competition for the current convention center in west Biloxi.
“They have a phenomenal client base in certain areas and segments like truck shows, exhibitions, sports, events, graduations, concerts that are really very strong,” he said. “If we open up a second venue like this, certainly the most important thing would be to go after markets that right now are not being served.”
He added that there needs to be a plan.
“I think the possibility to coexist is real,” Segarra added. “It’s a matter of how we’re going to blend and how we’re going to create a strategy to bring more people to the Coast and each one to the market that belongs.”
Kirkland said the administration and the city’s tourism partners will study the report before any recommendation would be made to the city council.