Holloway: Bullish on Biloxi’s future

Mayor A.J. Holloway this morning told state gaming industry executives and others at the Southern Gaming Summit in Tunica that Biloxi’s effort to revive its pre-Katrina renaissance will be driven by private investment and that history shows that hotel rooms will continue to fuel Biloxi’s economy.

“I’ve picked up a few things in that decade of prosperity I’ve been telling you about,” Holloway told audience members at the summit, which was moved from Biloxi to northern Mississippi because of damage from Katrina. “As mayor, I make it a point to keep up with an industry that employs 15,000 people in my city and provides millions of dollars in revenue to our city and state. The first thing is that casino hotel rooms are what drive the gaming revenue figures.”

Holloway pointed out that the opening of the 1,800-room Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in March 1999 sparked a 35 percent increase in gross gaming revenues at Biloxi casinos that year, and the continued growth of hotel rooms in the ensuing years has seen gaming revenues increase by 18 percent over the past five years.

“The demand was there, and it’s still there,” Holloway said of Biloxi, where three casinos are accounting for 70 percent of the pre-storm gaming revenue. “In fact, if you look at the revenue figures in places like Vicksburg, Natchez and New Orleans, you’ll see that they’re all up because of the lack of gaming opportunities in Biloxi.”

Holloway said seven casino resorts should be operating in Biloxi by the end of the year: Joining IP, the Isle of Capri and Palace Casino Resort will be Beau Rivage, which is aiming for an Aug. 29 re-opening; Grand Casino, which Harrah’s plans to open in its Bayview hotel on Casino Row; and Boomtown and Treasure Bay.

To read the complete text of the mayor’s remarks about the overall promise of the future in Biloxi, click here.

Council cancels flood meeting

The Biloxi City Council has canceled a special meeting scheduled for Tuesday where councilmembers were hoping to take a position on the FEMA’s advisory flood elevations.

The issue, which will determine how high new homes in flood-prone areas would have to be constructed, has been in the works since February, when Mayor A.J. Holloway recommended that the city adopt the recommendations, which would update a floodplain map FEMA created for city 23 years ago.

In the ensuing weeks, councilmembers have resisted the new standards, hoping to convince FEMA to relax the recommendations.

FEMA explains the reasons for the new elevations in a webcast now in the Flood Elevations section of the city web site. To listen for yourself, click here.

Acclaim rolling in for “Katrina & Biloxi’

Heartfelt praise laced with words of encouragement are streaming into Mayor A.J. Holloway’s office from among the hundreds of people who have viewed the city’s “Katrina & Biloxi” photo album and DVD.

The city, which is selling the 52-page book and 80-minute DVD online, expects to break even on the $85,000 fund-raising project within a week. Meantime, a team of workers at Knight-Abbey Commercial Printing and Direct Mail in Biloxi is individually packaging 28,000 “Katrina & Biloxi” DVDs and photo albums for Wal-mart shelves. No word yet on when the units will be in Wal-mart.

To read reactions from those who have seen the album and Addy Award-winning DVD, click here.

News and notes

The Renaissance: Follow the progress of the city’s storm-recovery initiative by clicking here.

Storm prep, Part 1: Preparations for hurricane season and other issues du jour are included in this week’s “City Desk” webcast. To listen, click here.

Storm prep, Part 2: You can view advice on preparing for storms and flooding on the city web site, including a mailout in the works for flood-prone properties. To visit the Storm & Flood Preparedness area of the site, click here.

On the ball, Part 1:The city’s challenger baseball league plays each Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Biloxi Sports Complex, and more than 700 youngsters who have been playing Little League baseball and girls softball will be wrapping up their seasons in a matter of weeks.

On the ball, Part 2: A meeting for the city-organized adult men’s and women’s softball leagues will be Wednesday, May 17, at 6:30 p.m. at the Donal Snyder Sr. Community Center, 2520 Pass Road. Fees will be determined by the number of registered teams, and games are scheduled to begin around June 12 at the Biloxi Sports Complex. The meeting Wednesday night will be in Meeting Room 3 at the Snyder Center. For more information, contact the Biloxi Parks and Recreation Department, 435-6281 or at cbell@biloxi.ms.us