City receives East Biloxi convention center report

The City of Biloxi on Monday afternoon received a 146-page analysis of whether a convention center should be considered for East Biloxi, amidst thousands of existing hotel rooms, and where it should be located.

The 146-page report was commissioned by Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District and compiled by Conventions, Sports & Leisure International.

The study says 70,000 additional room nights could be created by an East Biloxi convention center, and the most viable site appeared to be on Oak Street, which could be connected to two other proposed sites, at Holley and Kuhn streets.

Said the report: “Net new financial impacts for both the private and public sector in Biloxi has also been estimated. As shown, after factoring in profit margins for the various industries included in our analysis, the local lodging industry is estimated to generate nearly $7.8 million in net new annual profits, while the gaming sector would make just over $5.4 million in incremental profit.

“Meanwhile, the public sector would receive an estimated $3.4 million per year in the form of net new collections derived from state sales tax, county hotel tax, city gaming tax and county gaming tax collections. State sales tax generation would make up a significant majority of this amount, approximating $2.4 million per year.”

The idea of an East Biloxi convention center — to be located amidst the 5,000 or so hotel rooms east of Interstate 110 – is not a new one, but in November Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich proposed the city enter into an agreement where BBR Biloxi Development would invest as much as $250,000 to consider the idea, suggest sites, and, if feasible, move forward with a $150 million “world class, waterfront, mixed use convention center and retail project.”

Said Steve Reints of BBR Development about the report: “Completion of this detailed report is an important milestone, reflecting input, data and analysis to inform planning and decision-making. We continue to review these findings knowing this project could elevate Biloxi to the highest level, able to attract larger flat floor meetings and conventions that currently do not come to this market. 

“The opportunity exists to deliver monumental, sustained positive economic impacts to Biloxi, Harrison County and across the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Any potential development must integrate well with existing casino space and the Mississippi Gulf Coast Coliseum and Convention Center.  We appreciate Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District’s due diligence and inclusive approach to compiling this comprehensive report.”

The idea of a second convention center in Biloxi, closer to the large inventory of hotel rooms in East Biloxi, has been discussed for decades, and tourism leaders brought the idea up again at a two-day waterfront conference last year at Biloxi City Hall.

Under the proposal approved by the city, BBR Biloxi would identify potential sites in East Biloxi, which could include the vacant city-owned Tullis-Toledano property on East Beach. In fact, the resolution says if Tullis is indeed deemed a favorable site, the developer could have first option to buy the land, at 20 percent above market value.
See the report