Business

How close are we to a Coast Convention Center hotel?

TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALD 
 An on-site hotel could be coming to the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center. The Coliseum Commission has voted to move ahead with finding a developer for a hotel that would drive more conventions to the facility and developers are showing interest.
TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALD An on-site hotel could be coming to the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center. The Coliseum Commission has voted to move ahead with finding a developer for a hotel that would drive more conventions to the facility and developers are showing interest.

BILOXI -- The Coast Coliseum Commission is preparing to choose a developer to build a hotel adjacent to the Coliseum and Convention Center.

Executive Director Matt McDonnell said the commission voted Thursday to move ahead with the process. An electronic information package already is going out to 20 to 30 developers and he said, "There will be more as this process develops."

Interest grew after the commission bought the former Holiday Inn site along U.S. 90 and McDonnell's staff started contacting corporate chains and franchisees.

"We definitely think we have something to offer," he said.

Within the next 45 days, he hopes to identify the best prospects and complete interviews on these developers to determine whether they have the financial ability and are prepared to put a hotel on the property.

If this seems an ambitious timeline, he said it shows the overwhelming need for an on-site hotel and the determination of the commission to drive more business to the Convention Center.

"Is there a magic number of rooms?" he said. He's heard as few as 250 rooms and as many as 500, and said the commission will give developers flexibility, including whether to build one or two hotels and the best location.

"We're wanting developers to bring us ideas that maybe are a little out of the box," he said.

Many people thought when the commission bought the former Holiday Inn site it was to build a hotel there, McDonnell said. It really was the need to expand the Coliseum's footprint to accommodate parking during Cruisin' The Coast, for large graduations and when it has four events happening simultaneously.

"We also knew that when we acquired that footprint it would tweak developers' interest," he said. He's had local, regional and national developers contact him.

Developers who want information can contact McDonnell or Greg Blaize, assistant director, at 594-3700.

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