It’s a multi-million dollar compromise that could end nearly 40 years of the Coast Coliseum being run as a state agency. Next week, a bill goes before the full Mississippi House of Representatives that puts the Coliseum and its $7 million trust fund under the authority of Harrison County. On Thursday, Coliseum commissioners spent time ironing out their recommended changes to the bill.
For 38 years, Mississippi governors have chosen half of the members of the Coliseum Commission. Under House Bill 848, all appointments will be local: five from Harrison County and two from the cities.
State Representative Scott Delano authored the bill.
“The commission right now is a controlled by the governor’s office The governor has three appointees for the commission of the Coliseum. The Coliseum is considered a special fund agency of the state of Mississippi,” Delano said.
“The Harrison County delegation has decided because all of the debt of the Coliseum is backed by the Harrison County taxpayers, it should be overseen by the board of supervisors, and not be a state agency, but a county agency. Therefore, Bill 848 has removed all the governor appointments and has doubled the commissioners appointed by the local mayors.”
Coliseum leaders said state legislators have only allowed them access to the interest earned from a $7 million trust fund, which is running about $180,000.
Commissioners said having county supervisors calling the shots improves the odds of getting approval to dip into that money and get a much-talked-about host hotel next to the grounds.