Will the new James Brown Arena be constructed at its current downtown site, or will a new $120 million facility be built at the former Regency Mall location in south Augusta?
That is the question.
In about two months, Richmond County voters will see two nonbinding questions on the May 22 ballot regarding the proposed James Brown Arena.
The questions will be:
- Should the Augusta Commission approve a site location for the new James Brown Arena at the current location downtown?
- Should the Augusta Commission approve a site location for the new James Brown Arena at the Regency Mall location on Gordon Highway?
These questions have divided this community for more than six months now. It’s time for voters to have their say.
Of course, no matter what voters decide, the Augusta Commission will still have the final say in the matter.
But it will be interesting to find out the results of the two questions on the ballot. After all, Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis is extremely confident that voters will overwhelmingly support the south Augusta location.
However, many downtown business owners are urging voters to come out to the polls and support the new arena being built at the current downtown location.
Ironically, at the same time that both the local Republican and Democratic parties agreed to add the two arena questions to the May 22 ballot, the current James Brown Arena just received a major honor.
Just this past week, the Augusta Entertainment Complex was named “Small Venue of the Year” by Comcast Spectacor.
“For the second consecutive year, the Augusta Entertainment Complex has recorded the most successful fiscal year in its history,” according to a press release this week. “The Spectra venue also lowered its operating costs for the third consecutive year. During the 2016-17 fiscal year, Spectra hosted 129 events, and 33 more events than the previous year, which propelled Spectra to exceed its targets once again. According to the trade publication, Venues Today, The Bell Auditorium ranked #5 throughout Georgia in gross ticket sales FY2016.”
Chris Bird, the general manager at the Augusta Entertainment Complex, was also nominated for the Ed Snider Award, which was established to honor the company’s late chairman, Ed Snider, who passed away in 2016.
The award recognizes an individual who “embodies Ed’s entrepreneurial spirit and his devotion to philanthropy — the fundamentals that Spectra was built upon,” the press release stated.
“Chris Bird exemplifies these qualities by his passion for our local community and its leaders,” the release added. “He sits on several local boards including United Way, Southeastern Burn Foundation, Westobou Festival, and this past year was a participant in The Leukemia Lymphoma Society Man of the Year campaign.”
Both the arena staff and members of the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority were blown away by the recognition.
“It’s an honor to be chosen as Comcast Spectacor’s small venue of the year,” Bird stated. “We pride ourselves on being great partners with the Coliseum Authority and together we are committed to providing top-notch quality entertainment and further enhancing the quality of life here in Augusta.”
Coliseum Authority Chairman Johnson said Augusta was lucky to have such an incredible Spectra staff working in this community.
“We certainly appreciate the relationship we continue to have with the Spectra staff at The Augusta Entertainment Complex,” he stated. “Their efforts on the local level do not go unnoticed, and we’re pleased they are recognized as an asset to the company as a whole.”
So, if the local Spectra team can make the current aging arena so incredibly successful, can you imagine what it could do with a brand new $120 million facility in the right location here in Augusta?
Voters, it’s time to seriously consider both proposed locations and think about the future.
Do you want a new state-of-the-art arena in the thriving downtown area or would you prefer a new $120 million facility built on an abandoned piece of land that the city doesn’t even own out on Gordon Highway?
Whatever your thoughts are on the issue, consider the city’s future and make sure you head to the polls on May 22.
Let the Augusta Commission hear your voice.