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J U L Y 2 0 1 5 ⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 49 M I S S I S S I P P I GULF COAST The big news that Renee Areng, executive di- rector of Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional Con- vention and Visitors Bureau, wants everyone to know is that the Mississippi Gulf Coast is back. "Development all across the coast is re- markable right now. With new properties that have opened in the past year and about 2,000 more lodging rooms in planning and construc- tion stages, we are just about back to pre-Kat- rina numbers, with just under 17,000 hotel rooms along the coast." What makes the Mississippi Gulf Coast spe- cial is the openness of the coast, Areng said. "We have 62 miles of shoreline, and there are always views with multiple coastlines: the beach, the barrier islands, and the back bays. It's beautiful and visitors are always sur- prised—and very pleased—by that." A brand new Minor League Baseball team, the Biloxi Shuckers, plays in a new stadium, the 6,000-seat MGM Park in downtown Biloxi. According to a story in the Biloxi SunHerald, the team's owners are in negotiations to build a 250-room hotel and entertainment center next to the stadium. Other developments, according to Visit Mis- sissippi, include the transition of Grand Casino Biloxi into Harrah's Gulf Coast, with a casino redesign, hotel room upgrades, and a new fine- dining restaurant; a $550 million renovation of the Beau Rivage, with nearly 2,000 newly redesigned guest rooms and meeting space for up to 1,800; and the reopening of the historic White House Hotel, with 76 guest rooms and small meeting space. Gulf Coast Meeting Space: • Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center, Biloxi: 400,000 square feet of meet- ing, event, and exhibit space • Island View Casino Hotel, Gulfport: 970 rooms including newly opened Beach Tower, the only casino hotel with direct beach access; meeting space for up to 400 • IP Casino Resort & Spa, Biloxi: 1,000 guest rooms; 65,000 square feet of event space • Hollywood Casino, Bay St. Louis: 291 guest rooms; 14,000 square feet of event space • Golden Nugget Biloxi: 700 guest rooms and suites; 24,000 square feet of meeting space • Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Biloxi: 479 guest rooms; 13,000 square feet of event space • Palace Casino Resort, Biloxi: 236 guest rooms; 1,800 square feet of meeting space; the Gulf Coast's only non-smoking casino Scarlet Pearl, D'Iberville: 234 guest rooms plus 10 penthouse and 56 luxury suites; enter- tainment includes a 36-hole professional-style miniature golf course; to open in late 2015 Contact: Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional CVB, www.gulfcoast.org TUPELO Best known as the birthplace of Elvis Presley, Tupelo offers visitors nearly 2,000 guest rooms, restaurants ranging from fine dining to down-home cooking and one-of-a-kind attrac- tions, such as the Tupelo Automobile Museum, with more than 100 an- tique and classic cars, and the Elvis Presley Birthplace Park, which includes a 2,500-square- foot event center, 126- seat theater and outdoor amphitheater. Many locally owned stores and specialty shops are in Tupelo's historic downtown, including Reed's Department Store, serving customers for more than 100 years, and Tupelo Hardware, where Elvis's mother, Gladys, bought him his first guitar. In Tupelo, the BancorpSouth Arena and Conference Center has 10,000 square feet of function space, with six meeting rooms in the Conference Center plus 55,000 square feet of event space and five meeting rooms in the Arena/North Hall. The Hilton Garden Inn has 10,300 square feet of adaptable space in 17 event spaces; meeting space at the Holiday Inn Express can accommodate up to 40 people, seated classroom style; and the Clarion Inn and Summit Center has 65 guest rooms and eight banquet/meeting rooms. Contact: Tupelo CVB, www.tupelo.net ‰ Maritme Seafood Industry Museum in Biloxi The Elvis Presley Birthplace Park in Tupelo Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast