Harrison County

Should these county officials get free concert tickets? One employee doesn’t think so.

Monster Jam is one event likely to offer free tickets to the Coast Coliseum, which in turn can give them to its board and the Harrison County supervisors.
Monster Jam is one event likely to offer free tickets to the Coast Coliseum, which in turn can give them to its board and the Harrison County supervisors. COURTESY OF SPOTLIGHT EVENT MARKETING

Harrison County supervisor is a stressful often thankless job — but it does have its perks.

Free tickets to shows at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum, for example. Each supervisor can have two tickets to many of the acts who play there. All they have to do is ask.

The Sun Herald knows this because a county employee wrote us a list of the things he or she (the letter was unsigned) doesn’t like about the way supervisors are running the county. But it was the free tickets that apparently was the most galling.

“They get free tickets to EVERY EVENT AT THE COLISEUM,” the unsigned letter said. Well, not every event, said Coliseum Executive Director Matt McDonnell.

“The building gets a certain amount of tickets, not for every event but some events, that we can utilize for marketing and promotional purposes,” he said. “The Coliseum Commission has always gotten a pair of tickets, sometimes they use them and sometimes they don’t. The same thing is true for supervisors.”

Supervisor Marlin Ladner said taking tickets from the Coliseum isn’t a good idea, since the supervisors have a role in its operations.

“I have not,” he said when asked if he has received tickets. “Especially since the statute changed and the commission is appointed by the Board of Supervisors.”

Supervisors appoint the members of the Coliseum Commission and approve its budgets, construction projects and grants. Board attorney Tim Holleman said he wasn’t aware of the free tickets but saw nothing wrong with the practice. He said he did advise the supervisors not to accept tickets from a private contractor who was putting on an event at the fairgrounds.

It is not, as the letter writer suggested, an official policy, McDonnell said. Asked for examples of the kind of events that had free tickets available, McDonnell mentioned monster trucks, rodeos and some concerts.

“I’ve got a show coming up with Kevin Hart that we’re not going to have access to tickets,” he said. “From time to time, there are shows that we don’t get access to tickets.”

The Sun Herald also heard from three other supervisors — Kent Jones, Connie Rockco and Angel Kibler Middleton — who said they received tickets. None of the other three seemed too stoked about the prospect of seeing the free tickets publicized.

“I hate to hear that that would be made a big deal of,” said Middleton. “I just don’t see it as a big deal. But I’m an optimist. That’s the hardest thing on this job; I’m not used to looking for the dirty in stuff. I understand that sometimes you have to look to see if there’s a bad thing to it. I don’t see it in this.”

She said going to events also gives her a better idea of how well the Coliseum is taking care of its guests. Beverly Martin said she only uses tickets to help her with oversight.

“We kind of need to go and see how it’s run, what’s going on,” she said. “I went over for Scrapin’ the Coast, because I wanted to see, Matt asked me to come see, what kind of crowd they had. I’m planning to go to the spring break for the same purpose. We have due diligence, a duty to see what’s going on.”

Rockco said she very seldom takes the free tickets. Jones said he has gone to events but just considers them entertainment.

“I’m just not a big goer,” Rockco said. “I’m just not interested. Every now and then I’ll go to one but I have five grandbabies, so I end up having to pay a lot. Two tickets don’t knock a dent in anything I’m doing.”

Paul Hampton: 228-284-7296, @JPaulHampton