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Biloxi Coliseum windfalls make land purchase possible

BILOXI -- A settlement from BP and a refund from Mississippi Power came at just the right time for the Coast Coliseum Commission to buy 8 acres of land, possibly for a hotel or other development.

The offer for the former Holiday Inn site on U.S. 90 was made before Tuesday's scheduled auction of the property by John Dixon & Associates.

"We don't own the land. We have contracted to purchase the land," Matt McDonnell, executive director of the Coast Coliseum and Convention Center, said Tuesday.

The purchase price of the land from BancorpSouth hasn't been disclosed.

"We're still working that out," McDonnell said.

The Coliseum Commission received about $400,000 from BP in an oil-spill settlement, McDonnell said.

The commission expects to receive about the same amount in a refund Mississippi Power was directed to return to customers who were billed for construction of the Kemper County energy plant.

To take the property off the auction block was extremely important to the commission and the Coliseum, McDonnell said.

"It's very important to the future growth that has to take place in order for the facility to continue to grow and maintain an economic impact for the community," he said.

McDonnell said he hopes to close on the sale of the property in December.