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Plans for new event center take shape

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- One good thing that's rising from Hurricane Katrina's rubble is a new structure for special functions, dining and recreational activities. 

The Bay Breeze Event Center combines an officers lounge, enlisted lounge, casual dining, ballroom, recreation rooms and a golf course clubhouse and pro shop under one roof. 

Construction of the $23.3 million facility begins in June and should be completed by June 30, 2009, according to Bob Moseley, head of the 81st Civil Engineer Squadron's project management office. 

It replaces several buildings severely damaged by Katrina's high winds and storm surge. 

"It's going to be a great facility for the base and can be utilized for many events, from wedding receptions to graduations," Mr. Moseley said. 

"We're in the design phase and are developing the request for proposal package," he explained. "This project will be bundled with nine other projects in an effort to attract many bidders and obtain good pricing." 

The selected site encompasses land on Ploesti Drive previously occupied by the golf course clubhouse, cart barn, pool, pool house and parking. 

The design maximizes views from the ballrooms, function rooms and lounges and features terraces toward Biloxi's Back Bay and the marina. 

In keeping with the architectural theme established on base over the past few years, the reinforced structure will have a concrete foundation, steel frame, masonry walls, brick stucco exterior walls, light bronze glazed windows and a standing seam metal roof. 

The facility will house the information, tickets and tours office, recreation rooms with video games and pool tables, administrative offices, two music rooms and piano room for teaching and practice, storage space, loading dock and a kids play room with outdoor playground. 

Golfers can look forward to a modern facility designed to host individual play or accommodate golf tournaments on an 18-hole course being reconstructed to meet U.S. Golf Association standards. 

There'll be a pro shop, maintenance space and storage for up to 80 golf carts. 

The showplace of the center is the ballroom, which seats up to 400 guests at 10-seat round tables. It has a 16-foot ceiling, a raised stage and a built-in bar.  It can be divided into up to four rooms of different spaces to accommodate a variety of activities. 

Large restrooms and a distinguished visitor area are adjacent to the ballroom. 

The kitchen allows a full range of menu options for the casual diner, lounge customers or groups using the ballroom or one of the special function rooms. 

Both the officer and enlisted lounges have outdoor terraces, men's and women's restrooms and built-in bars with beer coolers and liquor storage. The enlisted lounge has a disk jockey room for parties. 

The tee boxes for the driving range must be relocated because of the project.
In addition to onsite parking to accommodate 120 cars, two remote lots will be developed to accommodate the parking overflow during major events. 

The facility is designed to be fully compatible with accessibility requirements for the disabled.