In a vote Tuesday, the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority declined to proceed with studying a new Augusta arena at the James Brown Arena site.
Debate in the Georgia city continues over where to build a new facility, which would act as a replacement for James Brown Arena. Discussions have primarily been between the James Brown site in downtown Augusta and the location of the dormant Regency Mall in south Augusta. Nonbinding yes-or-no referendum questions were placed on the ballot in May, and resulted in the downtown site receiving more yes votes than Regency Mall between Democratic and Republican ballots.
Since that vote, however, some officials have questioned whether the results are conclusive and some authority members believe more time should be taken in the site selection process. A motion to proceed on studying the James Brown Arena site was rejected Tuesday, as some authority members believe more time is needed to evaluate sites. More from The Augusta Chronicle:
Only vice chair Brad Usry supported member John Kelley’s motion to proceed on studying the current site as the place to build the new arena. The authority already owns the land but needs to do “due diligence” on the grounds and Usry said they need to do things like soil testing and renderings to see if the site will be ultimately suitable.
“We don’t have the information yet,” Kelley said. Member Darren Smith said it would be his preference to “take our time with it and see what comes up.”
Chairman Cedric Johnson said there had been a “gentlemen’s agreement” among members that they would abide with the results of a nonbinding resolution on the May 22 ballot and 60-61 percent of the “total community agreed to keep it downtown.” But Bonita Jenkins, assistant secretary of the authority, said the ballot question results were hard to follow and people could actually vote for both downtown and to put it at the old Regency Mall site or against both.
“I think the vote was confusing, to me,” she said. “I had friends that voted yes-yes, no-no.” And actually, “I don’t think we involved the community enough.” Jenkins said.
As noted, a new venue would act as a replacement for James Brown Arena, which originally opened in 1980.
RELATED STORIES: Mayor: New Augusta Arena Site Referendum Results Inconclusive; Downtown Augusta Arena Tops Nonbinding Vote; Committee Organized to Back Downtown Augusta Arena; Augusta Arena Site Sent to Non-Binding Referendum; Augusta Arena Pitch Referred to City Commission; Commission Votes to End Augusta Arena at Regency Mall Talks; Augusta Arena at Regency Mall Rejected; Augusta Arena Vote Set for Tuesday; Deadline Imposed on Augusta Arena Negotiations; Regency Mall Site Eyed for Augusta Arena; Augusta Slowing Down Arena Pursuit; Augusta Close to Selecting New Arena Site; Augusta Meets with Arena Design Firms; James Brown Arena’s Success Fuels New Arena Talks