Three new members were sworn in to the Coliseum Commission on Thursday and got a quick indoctrination into the quirks of the entertainment business.
In just the last month, the rock band Train found refuge from the rain that had drenched Orange Beach, Ala., and moved their rehearsal into the Coast Coliseum in Biloxi.
“The band was extremely grateful for our help and was very complimentary of our staff and how they were treated on such short notice,” said Matt McDonnell, Coast Coliseum and Convention Center executive director.
The Gucci Mane & Friends concert, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 24, in Biloxi, had to be canceled because Beyoncé will be performing the same day at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans and is the bigger draw, McDonnell said. The Gucci Mane concert had sold fewer than 100 tickets.
Comedian Kevin Hart drew 6,131 fans and generated $42,000 for the Coliseum in rent, food and fees, and his show paid for extra staff to keep his material from appearing on social media.
“A very strict cellphone usage policy was mandated by the artist that prohibited anyone from using their cellphone during his performance,” McDonnell said.
Hart brought an additional 186 security and usher staff — the most in his 30 years working at the Coliseum, McDonnell said.
More comedians are on the way to the Coliseum, with the Get Down Comedy Tour on Oct. 14 featuring George Lopez, Cedric the Entertainer, D.L Hughley, Eddie Griffin and Charlie Murphy. Tickets will go on sale next week.
Only 427 tickets remain for country star Chris Stapleton’s Oct. 20 concert, McDonnell said, and the Bill O’Reilly-Dennis Miller show Oct. 22 is sold out. Biloxi is the only venue in the Southeast outside Atlanta where the show is scheduled, he said, and people will be coming to Biloxi from around the region.
Thursday’s meeting was a milestone in the history of the Coliseum Commission. It was the first under new legislation that transfers oversight of the commission from the state to the county.
Swearing in the new board were Harrison County Supervisors Beverly Martin and Kent Jones along with Justice Court Judge Albert Fountain.
New members are Tabari Daniels, Linda Hornsby and Lenny Sawyer Jr. Returning members are Walter Blessey IV, Johnny Atherton, Tony Cvitanovich and John Carter. Renee Areng, executive director of Visit MS Gulf Coast, is an ex officio, nonvoting member.
Blessey, president under the former commission, was re-elected. Carter was elected president pro tempore, Hornsby as secretary and Atherton as treasurer. The commission changed the meetings to the fourth Tuesday at 9 a.m.
The new commission approved hiring Bo Lindsay, a former owner of the Mississippi Surge minor league hockey team, to run the ice skating operations at the Coliseum. McDonnell said Lindsay will staff the rink and maintain the 299 pair of skates for $165 per session, and skating will be for two months from November to January.
“Now we own all the skates and they’re all brand-new,” McDonnell said.
While there’s ice at the Coliseum, several performances of “Disney on Ice” will be scheduled during the holidays.
The commission will hold a special meeting Sept. 7 to interview two potential developers to build an on-site hotel.
“I think this is where we narrow the field to one,” McDonnell said.