Less than two months ago, Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis succeeded in achieving the ultimate political coup by surprising both the chairman and vice chairman of the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority with a backroom deal he had secretly brokered.
The mayor managed to convince the majority of the coliseum authority members to select the abandoned former Regency Mall site on Gordon Highway as the preferred location for the new James Brown Arena.
But none of that mattered to the mayor.
The fact that the authority had paid seasoned consultants $142,000 to develop an arena plan regarding the proposed sites that didn’t support the Regency Mall location also didn’t matter to the mayor.
And now, it appears the mere existence of the coliseum authority doesn’t matter to the mayor.
It seems the mayor has decided to completely bypass the thoughts and opinions of the coliseum authority and negotiate directly with the owners of the Regency Mall property by himself.
One Augusta? Is that right, Mayor Davis?
One meaning you, that is.
Davis seems so determined to build the new arena out in south Augusta that he is willing to ignore the very body that delivered him the necessary votes in August to begin negotiating with Cardinal Management, the owners of the mall, about the new arena.
Just this week, two hours prior to the coliseum authority meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 24, the deal that was on the table with Cardinal Management and the Regency Mall property had once again changed.
But the attorney for the coliseum authority hadn’t negotiated the deal. Or, at least, he claims he didn’t.
None of the authority members had negotiated the deal.
Or at least they say they haven’t.
And yet, somehow, a new deal had magically appeared.
So, the mayor has decided to completely take the coliseum authority out of the equation. Even his ol’ buddy, authority member Darren Smith, who introduced the original proposal to his colleagues just two months ago, is being left out of the loop.
Apparently, the mayor got what he wanted in August and doesn’t need the coliseum authority anymore.
Instead, he must now focus on getting at least five votes from the Augusta Commission to support the arena being built out in south Augusta.
So far, the mayor has solid support from Augusta commissioners Sammie Sias and Andrew Jefferson. If he can negotiate an appropriate deal that is fair for the city, he can also quickly get support from Dennis Williams, Bill Fennoy and possibly Ben Hasan because those commissioners all approve of the south Augusta location at Regency Mall. And, word on the street is that Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle is also open to the idea of the new arena being built in south Augusta if the deal is acceptable to the city’s finance department.
So, it doesn’t take a genius to count heads and votes when it comes to the new arena.
There are six possible votes in support of the Regency Mall location sitting right in the mayor’s lap.
Folks, the potential of the new James Brown Arena being built in south Augusta could soon get real.
If you have any objections about the proposed location at Regency Mall, you’d better voice them now.