|By Mary Perez, The Sun Herald, Biloxi,
Miss.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Aug. 15, 2010--BILOXI -- Construction and remodeling are complete at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center, and Coast residents are invited to check out the facility and all its bells and whistles.
A 50-foot-long ribbon will be cut by Gov. Haley Barbour, Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, Sen. Thad Cochran, Rep. Gene Taylor and other dignitaries Tuesday at 5 p.m. in the expansive lobby.
After the program, everyone is invited to wander through the 400,000 square feet of meeting and convention space and the new offices of the Harrison County Tourism Commission. Refreshments and music will be provided at three locations in the building.
"I'm very proud to have reached the stage to cut the ribbon," Executive Director Bill Holmes said.
In less than three years the existing convention center was completely remodeled, and a convention center expansion built along with a parking garage. The Coliseum has new doors and windows, a new electronic scoreboard, restrooms, security and concession stands. In the convention center, the kitchen was expanded and rebuilt and the exterior lighting, parking lots and landscaping were redone.
The total cost was $118 million, and Holmes said most of the construction was done by Mississippi contractors, including W.G. Yates and Sons, Roy Anderson, J.O. Collins and Starks Contracting. Funding came from FEMA and Hurricane Katrina insurance proceeds, Community Development Block Grant money and bonds approved by Harrison County voters in a referendum.
Although this is the official grand opening, Holmes said part of the expanded convention center was open last summer in time for the National Governors Conference in Biloxi. The expanded space has since hosted several events, including the recent "Antiques Roadshow" TV program.
"By hosting the ribbon-cutting, it symbolizes to the public and the nation's meeting planners that we are completely done and ready for their conferences, meetings and trade shows," Holmes said.
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Copyright (c) 2010, The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss.
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