March 10, 2004

The Harrison County Board of Supervisors last week approved a plan to double the size of the Coast Coliseum & Convention Center in Biloxi. The $72 million expansion will add 150,000 to 200,000 square feet, bringing the center's total exhibit space to approximately 350,000 square feet. The board proposed increasing the county's hotel room tax from 10 to 13 percent in order to pay for the project. According to the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau, the plan now must be reviewed by the State Legislature in Jackson, although no date has been announced.

In the United Kingdom, the Bournemouth Council (the local government body) has approved a $33 million expansion and refurbishment plan for the Bournemouth International Centre. The project, which will begin in July and be completed in fall 2005, includes the addition of 16,200 square feet of multipurpose space, for a total of 70,200 square feet; the expansion of Windsor Hall to accommodate 4,300 attendees (up from 3,700) for seated events; and the addition of 10,800 square feet of meeting/breakout rooms. The plan still requires additional funding from the South West Regional Development Agency; a decision is expected later this month.