After extended debate over the site stalled the effort, planning for a potential new downtown Augusta, GA arena moved forward following a vote by a local authority Tuesday.
There has been debate for some time over where a potential replacement for downtown Augusta’s James Brown Arena should be located, with officials unable to come to a consensus on moving forward with planning for a particular site. Nonbinding yes-or-no referendum questions were placed on the ballot last May, and resulted in the downtown site receiving more yes votes than Regency Mall in south Augusta–another location that was preferred by some officials–between Democratic and Republican ballots, but discussions over where to plan the arena continued after that election
Due diligence on a new downtown arena will now move forward, as the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority voted 5-1 on Tuesday to take the next step in exploring a new venue on authority-owned land downtown. As part of that effort, the authority would work with consultant Perkins+Will on the community outreach and conceptual design process. More from the Augusta Chronicle:
“I am very excited that we are going to be able to move forward,” authority Chairman Cedric Johnson said. “We’ve been in a holding pattern for about two years, and that’s a lot of time we’ve wasted by not going forward.”…
[Vice Chairman Brad] Usry said that within two months he expects to have conceptual drawings of an approximately 10,000-seat arena to begin showing the community to garner its vital support.
The project has no funding source and would likely require the authority to borrow in excess of $100 million or draw heavily from sales taxes.
Tuesday’s vote came after a few key developments, including a recent letter from Augusta mayor Hardie Davis–previously a proponent of the Regency Mall site–encouraging authority members to move forward with exploring a downtown arena. The aging condition of James Brown Arena, which originally opened in 1980, has contributed to the ongoing discussions about a new arena.
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