The House gave overwhelming support to Rep. Jeff Smith’s House Bill 39 to put $51 million into the 2015 bond bill for renovating the Coliseum and building a new Trade Mart. The Tupelo Republican’s general obligation bond bill must survive the Senate’s Finance Committee and a floor vote to make it to its real test: the bond conference committee in the session’s final days.

A similar bill died in the conference last year.

Why the hurry to do the Coliseum makeover and Trade Mart rebuild?

The backyard is always an option, after all.

So is demolishing both structures and walking away from the twin moneymakers.

But neither is acceptable to Mississippians.

Along with providing $17 million a year over three years, here’s what HB 39 does:

» Replaces the Trade Mart with a more than 100,000 square-foot trade show venue attached to the Coliseum, allowing for a 40,000-square-foot expansion of the Coliseum floor to accommodate major exhibitions such as heavy machinery and boat shows;

» New lighting, HVAC and electrical systems;

» New dressing rooms for the Coliseum;

» All new seating for the Coliseum and increasing the total to about 10,000 seats;

» New restrooms;

» New concession areas;

» Two additional elevators;

» A club level for spectators and group functions such as Christmas parties;

» An attractive plaza area in front of the Coliseum on which pre-concert parties and other events can be held;

» Improved parking areas throughout the Fairgrounds.

Nothing extravagant here.  But the Coliseum enhancements and new Trade Mart would restore the State Fairgrounds as genuine destinations for entertainment and trade shows.

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