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  • Matt Colville

Mississippi Coast Coliseum - Mississippi Sea Wolves


Photos by Matt Colville, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29

Mississippi Coast Coliseum 2350 Beach Blvd Biloxi, MS 39531

Year Opened: 1977 Capacity: 9,150

 

Welcome to the Wolf's Den

In December 2021, over 8,000 fans packed the Mississippi Coast Coliseum for each game in a series of three neutral site games between teams from the Federal Prospects Hockey League (FPHL). The plan was to see how many fans would turn out, to determine if a professional hockey team should return to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Needless to say, hockey fans on the coast passed the test – the games were a huge draw and a big success for the region. So, for the 2022-23 season, for the first time in over eight years, the sound of Zambonis roaring and players skating on the ice could be heard inside Coast Coliseum once again, as the Mississippi Sea Wolves have been resurrected as the FPHL's newest team.


Hockey is no stranger to the Gulf Coast. In 1996 the original Mississippi Sea Wolves were born and competed in the ECHL for 11 seasons; for the first nine seasons the Sea Wolves brought packed houses to the Coliseum, and a passionate fan base to an unlikely hockey market in south Mississippi. The Sea Wolves were a huge success and made the playoffs during eight of those seasons, and even won the Kelly Cup Championship in 1999.


Unfortunately, all that would change in August 2005, when the coast would face its ultimate test, the deafening blow of Hurricane Katrina. The 20-foot surge completely gutted the Coliseum, which is located less than a hundred yards from the beach – the Coliseum would be closed for two years to repair the damage. The Sea Wolves would return in 2007 and play two more seasons before suspending operations for good. After that, the Mississippi Surge of the SPHL would begin play in 2009 and play for five seasons, winning one President’s Cup Championship in 2011.


Food & Beverage 3

The Coliseum features six fixed permanent concessions stands, with three on each side of the concourse, although for most games only four of the stands are open. One of the stands is called Gulf Coast Eats and its prices are kind of high – the menu includes smash burgers ($15), chicken sandwiches ($13), chicken tender baskets ($11), nachos ($7), jumbo pretzels ($7), hot dogs ($6), and popcorn ($6).


On busy nights two of these Gulf Coast Eats stands will be open on each side. The other stand is Provisions and sells an extensive drink selection, including canned cocktails ($11), domestic beers (Miller Lite & Coors Light) and premium beers (Blue Moon, Truly, Flying Llama IPA, Modelo, Corona, & Yuengling) for $10-$11, as well as soda for $5; Coca-Cola is the soft drink provider at Coast Coliseum.


You can also find several pop-up stands located throughout the Coliseum. There is a nacho stand that sells a wide assortment of different nachos, as well as a pizza stand that sells really good flat bread pizzas for $12. There is also a full-service bar on the first level of the Coliseum called the Locker Room – this area is an enclosed lounge that is only open for select games. There is a smaller bar set up on the floor on the north side as well.


Atmosphere 3

The Sea Wolves play at the 9,150-seat Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi. The large stucco building opened in 1977 and has become a symbol for the Mississippi Coast. The Coliseum is often featured in aerial shots of Biloxi along with the city's impressive casinos and the historic Biloxi Lighthouse. The venue is the typical mid-sized city's civic center of the 70s and 80s, lacking some of the amenities found at some of hockey’s newer arenas. Regardless, the Coliseum is still the second largest arena in the 10-team conference.


The ice faces north and south with a two-level seating bowl and wraparound concourse where you can walk around the entire arena from the concourse. There are no suites or club levels; instead the floor level features four makeshift suite areas on the south end of the venue. The north side features the Coca-Cola Café, a seating area with high end stools and cocktail tables. The concourse on the first floor also features a pretty impressive merchandise stand which sell t-shirts, pennants, jerseys, pucks, and more.

When the Sea Wolves returned, they brought back all the nostalgia of the original Sea Wolves. The team plays the original songs that were played during the first incarnation – Robert Miles' song "Children" will play over the speakers as they dim the lights during the starting lineups and player introductions, and Europe’s "The Final Countdown" plays at the start of the 3rd period. These are little things but still nice to see that the new club has brought them back. In addition, the wolf mascot Hook has been brought back in the exact same mascot costume from the original franchise. Hook is a constant presence at Sea Wolves games and is always seen in the crowd.


The Coliseum's public address announcer is also the same guy whose voice has been heard at the Coliseum for over 20 years; the only difference is the slight logo change and the Sea Wolves playing in the FPHL. So, if you were a fan of the original Sea Wolves you will have no problem supporting the new team.

Neighborhood 5

Hockey, beaches and casinos; what more could you ask for. The small coastal city is known for its world class casinos, famous seafood, and rich southern history. After being completely devastated during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Biloxi has come a long way in 17 years. Nicknamed ‘Vegas of the South’, Biloxi has nine casinos that line the skyline, each with their own unique theme and amenities, and remains a popular getaway for many in the southeast who want a cheaper alternative to Vegas.


The Coliseum sits several miles from the nearest casino, but Biloxi is quite a small town so it's nothing more than a 5-10 minute drive to Casino Row to the east. The Coliseum sits less than 100 yards from the beach, so you could go straight from the beach to a hockey game in less than 5 minutes. Although the waters of the Mississippi Sound aren't as pretty as the water in nearby Florida and Alabama, you can still find plenty to do such as taking a boat to the nearby islands off the coast and fishing for some of the best seafood in the world.


Sitting directly across the street from the Coliseum to the east is the beautiful grounds of Beauvoir, the last home of Jefferson Davis – the large mansion was built in 1848 and sits on 52 acres of ground that include a veterans home and a cemetery. Every October the site plays host to a Civil War re-enactment.


Another scenic historic sight in the area is the Biloxi Light House located nearby; the lighthouse was built in 1847 and is available for tours every day. Biloxi also has plenty of restaurants, ranging from 5-star restaurants in the casinos to tons of different seafood restaurants in downtown and on the beach.


Fans 3

Midway through the 2022-23 season the Sea Wolves are averaging 2,400 fans per game, which places them fourth in the conference. The Coliseum also holds the all-time FPHL attendance record, which was set at the neutral site game in December 2021. Sea Wolves games attract a wide mix of different types of people – you'll find the local military crowd, the casino crowd, a mix of different families, and the snowbird crowd from other states who are visiting the local casinos. Many of these people along the Gulf Coast remember the days of the old Sea Wolves, so you'll also find the regulars who show up just for the nostalgia of the Sea Wolves being back in Biloxi.


You'll also find a lot of people wearing old Sea Wolves jerseys and jerseys of other ECHL teams that once played along the southeast I-10 corridor. At one time Interstate 10 from Jacksonville to Texas played host to eight ECHL teams, so it's not uncommon to find old Mobile Mystics, Jackson Bandits, New Orleans Brass, or Baton Rouge King Fish jerseys spotted in the crowd. I also saw plenty of Nashville Predators jerseys and even somebody wearing an Atlanta Thrashers jersey, so the fans that attend Sea Wolves game are knowledgeable about hockey.


The Sea Wolves also do a good job at keeping the fans entertained throughout the game. Danger, the emcee, also does a good job of keeping fans into the games during timeouts, with contests such as hockey cornhole, finish the lyrics, and asking fans trivia questions. The Sea Wolves started out kind of slow during their 2022-23 season, but you really couldn't tell here as the fans are into the game regardless. During the most recent game I was at a player scored a hat trick, so the fans threw their hats onto the ice.

One thing that helps keeps people informed is the FPHL streaming all its games on YouTube for free – being able to watch Sea Wolves away games for free is always a plus. The Sea Wolves also do a good job with the community, hosting wait nights at the local restaurants and having watch parties at a local bar, where one of the players works as a bartender. The Sea Wolves have also brought back the Junior Sea Wolves, the only known club hockey team for kids and teenagers – this type of fan engagement will only ensure that the Sea Wolves will be around for years to come.


Access 3

Biloxi is kind of off the beaten path, about an hour and a half east of New Orleans and about an hour west of Mobile. The Coliseum is located on Beach Blvd/Highway 90, about 8 miles south of the interstate. Navigating the side roads from the interstate to the beach can be kind of confusing, not to mention the closer to the beach you get the worse traffic will get. The best exit would be to take Cedar Lake Road at Exit 44, then travel south for about 8 miles until you will hit Pass Road, one of the main roads through Biloxi. Pass Road runs east and west and will often have traffic congestion and road work going on – from there turn south onto Beauvoir Road and the Coliseum sits to the right.


You could also take the scenic route on Highway 90/Beach Blvd; this route runs east and west over 50 miles through eight small coastal beach towns, with Biloxi located right in the middle. This highway runs along the beach, and on the way you'll pass casinos, seafood restaurants, small towns, and historic sights – I recommend this route if you have a lot of time.


Parking can be kind of hectic when there is an event going on at the convention center attached to the Coliseum. There is plenty of parking around the property and even a parking garage, but the grounds are huge, so you may have to walk a bit if you park in the back lots if there is an event going on next door.


Return on Investment 3

Tickets are easy to come by for Sea Wolves games and a great bargain – seating is separated into three sections; the upper level and lower levels, plus four rows of removable bleachers in front of the seating bowl. Tickets start at $10 for seats in the upper deck, while it is $13 for the lower deck and $19 for seating in the removable sections. You can also purchase a seat for $22 at one of the tabletops at floor level in the north end as well.


Concessions prices are kind of high, but in today's age most concessions at arenas are always high. However, factoring in the great views from anywhere in the Coliseum and the Sea Wolves always putting on an enjoyable experience, I consider it a great return on investment. You are also getting to see the only professional hockey team in the state of Mississippi.


Extras 3

If you are interested in ghosts and the paranormal, then you will be thrilled to know that Coast Coliseum is supposedly haunted. The Coliseum is only 46 years old, but it was built on the site of an old orphanage that was located here in the 1940s – before that it was part of the property of Beauvoir next door. That, factored into the cemetery located right off the property, has only increased ghost sightings even more on the grounds of the Coliseum. In 2022 the Sci-Fi Channel's Ghost Hunters visited the Coliseum and found tons of evidence supporting the claims it is haunted; the convention center and the south side of the building are the parts of the building with the most activity, so be on the lookout for ghosts if you attend a Sea Wolves game.


The Coliseum has also been the Coast's premiere indoor entertainment venue, as it is the largest indoor multi-purpose venue in Mississippi south of Jackson. The venue has hosted a ton of events over the years including postseason conference basketball tournaments, WWE and WCW events, NBA preseason games, and an indoor football and soccer team, as well as concerts such as Allman Brothers, Willie Nelson, Jimmy Buffett, Ray Charles, Aerosmith, Elton John, Johnny Cash, and Kiss.


Another extra just for how far this region has come since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. With the Biloxi Shuckers playing in a beautiful ballpark downtown and the Sea Wolves returning to the Coast, Biloxi is becoming a minor league sports destination on top of already being a top-notch entertainment destination. It's interesting watching the city returning to its former glory compared to how this place looked after the hurricane.

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