Preliminary cost estimates to construct club seating at James Brown Arena came in at around $619,000, but project architect Nick Dickinson told members of Augusta’s coliseum authority today he expected the actual cost to be lower.
“We think the price will come down,” said Dickinson, architect for the club seating and other renovations in the works at James Brown Arena and Bell Auditorium.
The renovations are being funded using a $5 million portion of Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority’s $25 million bond issue, $19 million of which is going to construct the new downtown TEE Center.
Dickinson said he expected Augusta’s competitive construction market likely would draw 12-14 contractors interested in building the club seating that will drive the construction price down.
Authority members got a glimpse at two sketches of the club seating, which vice-chairman Brad Usry said already was generating much interest from groups seeking naming rights and memberships.
By paying a membership fee, patrons will have access to a private indoor-outdoor lounge, premium parking spaces, high-end food and beverage service and the best seats for each event, according to an improvement plan developed by Loudermilk Group for Global Spectrum, the firm that manages both facilities.
The fees are expected to generate as much as $300,000 in extra annual income, Usry said.
That's good, because the authority's year-to-date net loss of just $301,000 benefitted greatly from hotel-motel bed tax collections that next year will go toward bond payments, authority accountant Brenda Carroll said.
"As far as revenue goes, we had an exceptionally strong year, only because of the hotel-motel tax windfall," Carroll said.