Ag chief wants multi-million dollar upgrades for fairgrounds

The aging Mississippi Coliseum and neighboring Trade Mart would undergo upgrades of around $30 million under a plan initiated by newly elected Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith.

Without some significant work, each of the venues could see a falloff in usage, leading to a loss of revenue that helps support other facilities within the Mississippi Fairgrounds, Hyde-Smith said.

The agriculture commissioner said she has made the fix-ups a priority of her first term in office and hopes to persuade legislative leaders to put money for the work in next year’s state bond bill. That could be a challenge, considering that bickering over what to put in the 2012 bond bill led legislators to go without a bond bill this year.