Macon takes Augusta hockey team

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 12:14 PM
Last updated 9:49 PM
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RiverHawks owners Bob and Diane Kerzner announced they will move their franchise to Macon, Ga., during a news conference at the Marriott City Center.  FILE/STAFF
FILE/STAFF
RiverHawks owners Bob and Diane Kerzner announced they will move their franchise to Macon, Ga., during a news conference at the Marriott City Center.

Augusta has officially lost professional hockey again with the RiverHawks moving to Macon, Ga.

RiverHawks owners Bob and Diane Kerzner announced they will move their Southern Professional Hockey League franchise to Macon, Ga., during a news conference Wednesday at the Marriott City Center in Macon.

The team will be named the Macon Mayhem and will play in the Macon Centreplex on a five-year contract, according to Bob Kerzner. He said the team will begin play in 2015.

“Macon gave a great impression,” he said. “They were 100 percent behind it, so it was a seamless decision. When the community wants you to come, it makes it an easy move.”

Kerzner acknowledged June 17 that he was in contract discussions with Macon to use the facility. The Macon-Bibb County Commission unanimously agreed that day to rent out the arena for hockey.

“Everybody is very happy about it,” Kerzner said. “We’re all fired up. It’s an exciting day.”

The RiverHawks announced May 14, 2013, that they would not play the 2014 season at James Brown Arena. The team was forced to play its final eight 2013 home games at Augusta Ice Sports Center after the arena’s cooling system failed and the ice melted.

Kerzner waited for possible compensation from the forced move, but it never came. He moved to a legal process with Global Spectrum, which manages the arena, to find a resolution for compensation.

Talks of repairing the ice system in the arena went dormant. Kerzner said last week that attorneys were still discussing a resolution.

The RiverHawks played three seasons in Augusta. Before that, the Augusta Lynx folded in 2008 after 11 seasons.

Longtime hockey fan Sam Roney believes it will be a while before hockey returns again.

“I don’t think it will come back until we get a new arena,” Roney said. “If somebody puts one in Columbia County, that will solve a lot of problems.

Staff writer Chris Gay contributed to this article.

AUGUSTA HOCKEY TIMELINE

SEPT. 4, 1997: The Augusta Richmond County Coliseum Authority voted to spend almost $1 million to install an ice floor in the civic center, clearing the way for a minor league hockey team.

FEB. 26, 1998: Owner George Gillespie unveiled the Augusta Lynx name and logo. Gillespie purchased the Raleigh Ice Caps in June of 1998 with the intentions of moving the team to Augusta.

OCT. 15, 1998: The first Augusta Lynx game was a win for the home team. The Lynx beat the Jacksonville Lizard Kings 9-5 in front of 7,151 fans.

NOV. 22, 2002: Gillespie introduced Augusta Ice Sports Center co-owner Pete Budwick as a minority owner, the team’s first local owner.

SEPT. 24, 2003: The ECHL approved the sale of the Lynx to Augusta Entertainment LLC, a local ownership group led by local car dealership owner Frank Lawrence. The new ownership group, which purchased the team for just over $1 million, also included William S. Morris III, chairman and chief executive officer of Morris Communications Co., and publisher of The Augusta Chronicle.

APRIL 20, 2006: The ECHL approved the sale of the Lynx to the Group Operating the Augusta Lynx (G.O.A.L.). The new ownership group was led by local businessman Dan Troutman, and Jan Hodges Burch and Robert Burch.

DEC. 2, 2008: Ownership announced their intentions to fold the team.

FEB. 9, 2010: A news conference is scheduled to introduce Augusta as the newest member of the Southern Professional Hockey League.

OCT. 22, 2010: The RiverHawks begin play in Augusta and lose the home opener in a 5-3 loss to the Huntsville Havoc in front of 2,542 fans.

APRIL 15, 2011: The Mississippi Surge knocked off the first-year Augusta RiverHawks to claim the Southern Professional Hockey League championship.

APRIL 2012: No. 8 seed Huntsville Havoc bounce Augusta, the No. 1 seed, from the first round of the playoffs.

MARCH 4, 2013: The RiverHawks are displaced after James Brown Arena’s cooling system failed, causing the ice to melt. The team will play its final eight home games at Augusta Ice Sports Center in front of season-ticket holders and sponsors.

MARCH 21, 2013: RiverHawks fail to qualify for playoffs.

MAY 14, 2013: RiverHawks announce they will not be playing next season and are taking a leave from league play for one season.

JUNE 25, 2014: RiverHawks owners announce team is moving to Macon, Ga., and will play in SPHL as Macon Mayhem.

– From staff reports

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Butterman
3680
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Butterman 06/25/14 - 12:19 pm
3
8
Let's see
Unpublished

how long they last in Macon Bacon. Hockey is just not a a Southern Sport. Let The Yankees have it.

my.voice
4824
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my.voice 06/25/14 - 12:28 pm
7
0
And what sport is Augusta's?

And what sport is Augusta's?

Football? NOPE
Baseball? NOPE
Hockey? NOPE

hmmmmmm........... checkers?

bdouglas
5035
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bdouglas 06/25/14 - 12:30 pm
13
0
I take serious issue with the

I take serious issue with the headline of "Macon takes Augusta hockey team". Macon took NOTHING from Augusta. Augusta and the Coliseum Authority GAVE the team away on a silver platter by their ineptness and inaction on the ice floor issue at the arena. Period.

bdouglas
5035
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bdouglas 06/25/14 - 12:31 pm
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@my.voice

Umm...golf, perhaps?

drt16
7
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drt16 06/25/14 - 12:49 pm
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GOOD BYE

I was there when hockey first came to Augusta. There was a group of us who tried to share our thoughts, ideas on how to help a sport make it in Augusta. We told them what not to do they done it anyway. The hockey team failed because they did not have local ownership they were staffed by folks not from Augusta area and did not have any ties to Augusta. Sports will make it in Augusta but it will take a plan and a civic center that will help them make it. I know of several teams that would come to Augusta in arena football but Augusta is going to have to show them they want them before another team will call Augusta home. As for the hockey team they came in with a bad attitude from the start. The only real team that had a chance to make it in Augusta was the Augusta Groove but again was from out of town.

Riverman1
84110
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Riverman1 06/25/14 - 12:53 pm
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Kind of Gets Old

I attended a couple of hocket games the first couple of years they were here and it was a blast. 4-5 thousand fans and great intermission entertainment stunts. Maybe the best thing is for them to move from town to town every few years. I dunno?

Riverman1
84110
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Riverman1 06/25/14 - 12:54 pm
5
2
Baseball has done alright

Baseball has done alright here. At one time this was one of the best minor league franchises for concession sales in the country. Moving to North Augusta doesn't mean the CSRA has lost the team by any means.

Cameron Poe
879
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Cameron Poe 06/25/14 - 01:22 pm
8
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Riverman1 I hate to be this

Riverman1 I hate to be this person and chime in here, but, this idea that as long as things stay in the CSRA its good for all is just silly. Yes, the cities, towns, and counties have a somewhat symbiotic relationship. But, North Augusta is still South Carolina and its own city. That means tax dollars (sales or property), money spent in the area, and all the revenue from those tickets we know the NA public safety will be handing out like hotcakes will not be going to Georgia or Augusta. And this situation is the same either way. I think it's that silly complacent mind set that folks like Deke and our commission keep spouting to cover up their own failures, that if it's still in the CSRA it's still good for us all. Did NA have this mindset when they saw the opportunity to pull the Greenjackets to their side of the river and their tax base? No says I.

countyman
20129
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countyman 06/25/14 - 01:33 pm
2
10
Double standard

Cameron Poe... Augusta is competing against Chattanooga, Savannah, Greenville, Charleston, Columbia, etc... Developers aren't sitting around comparing Augusta versus North Augusta... Any developer building something in North Augusta will look at the demographics of Richmond County... This mentality is part of the problem here in Augusta. We continue to get caught up in the Richmond versus Columbia/Aiken battles which mean nothing..

Why don't you have a problem when the leaders of CC/AC bring up the Starbucks plant, Cyber Command, outlet mall, etc in Richmond County?

The GGHF site belonged to the state of Georgia and not the city of Augusta.. Governor Deal transferred the land over to GRU and the rest is history.. The proposed $225 million residential/retail development and $75 million biotech park will bring more than enough growth to DT Augusta..

Cameron Poe
879
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Cameron Poe 06/25/14 - 01:46 pm
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Countyman Im not really sure

Countyman Im not really sure where you are going with this. My point is simply that when we as a city lose something because our city was not doing what was needed to keep the business, it is still not a win for us just because the business is still in the CSRA.

As far as CC getting business RC still loses out on those tax dollars but the state of GA still sees tax dollars and gets some benefit. So, as a resident of RC which lies in the state of GA I can wrap my head around it.

I think you might need to re read my comments and then re think your response because you seem to be very off base and maybe that is where the offense you are taking is coming in.

Again, my point is that I am for growth in Richmond County and the state of Georgia. Hence, why I am complaining when the mayor of Augusta and the Augusta commission shows complacency in loss of revenue stream. I would think someone who touts the growth and progress of the city as much as you do, that this concept would not be foreign to you.

Riverman1
84110
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Riverman1 06/25/14 - 02:06 pm
5
1
Valid Point Cameron Poe

Cameron Poe, hey, you present a valid point. Don't be afraid to point it out to me. I won't bite you. However, I still believe the CSRA has to be viewed as a whole. One county can boom and the others can tag along and that works with all three counties. What happens to the CSRA if Columbia County gains 50,000 residents, but Richmond stays the same? Richmond is going to be helped also. I remember when Bob Young was mayor he welcomed a new and bigger arena in Columbia County since it appeared one wouldn't be built in Richmond. He understood. Countyman gets off subject a bit in that comment, but I do think he was trying to say something similar.

countyman
20129
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countyman 06/25/14 - 02:43 pm
1
9
Cameron Poe... The GGHF site

Cameron Poe... The GGHF site never belonged to the city of Augusta.. How can you force Governor Deal to transfer the property? The mayor clearly wanted the mix-use development, but Dr. Azizz had other plans..

The New York Giants and New York Jets both play in New Jersey... These are professional teams and not the minor league either..

''What happens to the CSRA if Columbia County gains 50,000 residents, but Richmond stays the same? Richmond is going to be helped also.''

It would definitely help, but wouldn't have much of an impact outside CC.. Population growth is much different from a minor league team moving into another part of town.. The construction between 2000-2010 pretty much showed what happens.. Columbia County will attract multiple new shopping centers(Mullins Crossing, Gateway, etc).. The companies like ADP, Rural Sourcing, Starbucks, Rockwood, etc didn't come into Richmond County until after the population starting growing again(after 2005).. The growth must come from within and not from the outside... The growth in Columbia County over the last ten years has attracted mostly retail jobs and not high paying jobs... The growth of Richmond County would bring tons of high paying jobs into Columbia County.. The Evans area is the next in line after DT and West Augusta/North Richmond..

Riverman1
84110
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Riverman1 06/25/14 - 02:44 pm
7
0
Pay What You Want For Ice Cream

Countyman, what do you mean an increased population in Columbia County won't help Richmond? That seems kind of a silly thought, especially since the Columbia County population is so affluent and we are talking about the CSRA. West Augusta, next to Columbia County, thrives and the proximity is the reason. East Richmond County which includes the CBD is also helped by Columbia and Aiken Counties. You don't get that?

Riverman1
84110
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Riverman1 06/25/14 - 02:45 pm
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1
Ah, Countyman changed his

Ah, Countyman changed his post. He recognized some of the points I brought up.

Riverman1
84110
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Riverman1 06/25/14 - 03:14 pm
5
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Think CSRA, NOT Counties

Honestly, I don't care how many jobs Columbia County has. Richmond can provide all the places of employment. It's not a far drive and unless there is a wall and checkpoint checking county papers, Richmond can deal with their problems and we can deal with how close the greens should be cut on the golf courses in Columbia County, which country club to hold the high school party in and who should manage the dock for sail boats at the lake.

Cameron Poe
879
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Cameron Poe 06/25/14 - 02:58 pm
5
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Countyman again I am not sure

Countyman again I am not sure where you are going with this. Seems your second response contradicts your first response to me.

***Edit: Apparently the comment was edited before I posted and refreshed the page.***

Just My Opinion
5638
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Just My Opinion 06/25/14 - 03:32 pm
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Well, getting back to

Well, getting back to comments about the HOCKEY team......in fact, about any of the sports teams that were housed at the Civic Center.....I think the major problem is pretty much the LOCATION of the venue! Yeah, it's that simple, IMO. Bring the venue to someplace away from downtown and closer to Columbia County, and it'll work...I think. People are sticking their heads in the sand if they think that people from Columbia County don't mind driving to an event all the way downtown. We do!
I know, I know!!! It doesn't take that long to drive it, but it's a pain in the tail! And then you have to pay to park in a lot that you STILL feel could avail your car to thieves?!?! And then you have to drive all the way home afterward, amongst the strip clubs or hoodlums??
We used to drive down there for the arena football games. We really loved the games, but hated the logistics.
Build a new venue out in either West Augusta or Columbia County, and you'll see attendance pick up..........................I think.

Pops
8550
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Pops 06/25/14 - 03:40 pm
6
3
It's minor league hockey

for heaven"s sake.....let it go to Macon.....then it can go to Columbus......

countyman
20129
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countyman 06/25/14 - 04:03 pm
2
9
Just the opinion.. The

Just the opinion.. The residents of Aiken County rarely drive to Columbia County.. The location is not the problem and the JBA needs to be replaced with a multi-use facility. The two biggest concerts this year were held in the urban core(Widespread Panic and FGL).. A facility somewhere off I-20 in West Augusta/North Richmond could work, but a downtown location can also thrive

bdouglas
5035
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bdouglas 06/25/14 - 04:27 pm
6
1
@CM

Aiken County residents don't drive to Columbia County as often as Richmond County because, for the most part, it's just a duplication of restaurants and retail that are available in either place. A resident of NA can drive to Augusta Exchange or all the way out to Mullins Crossing, and the main difference is just Kohl's. So why drive to Mullins Crossing from NA? If there were more unique restaurants and retail in CC that weren't already in RC, plenty more Aiken County folks would make that drive. I think the real question is why are so many businesses duplicated in both places?

As for the JBA...other than needing a refresh of its look, I don't see any issues with the place for the most part, either. Parking could improve the appearance of security, but other than that, not much. JMO saying CC folks don't want to drive down there because of locations is baloney. It's because of the type of shows they bring in that they don't come in as often. Put any country music concert there and the CC folks flock in just as much as any other county.

Riverman1
84110
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Riverman1 06/25/14 - 06:40 pm
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1
Countyman said, "A facility

Countyman said, "A facility somewhere off I-20 in West Augusta/North Richmond could work, but a downtown location can also thrive."

I agree a West Augusta location on I-20 or Riverwatch would work, but I doubt anywhere in East Richmond County (the downtown area, etc.) would work.

Dixieman
14972
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Dixieman 06/25/14 - 09:02 pm
5
0
Congratulations, Riverman~!

I just gave you a thumbs up taking you from 76999 to 77000 points. Keep up the good posts!

Young Fred
17467
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Young Fred 06/25/14 - 11:55 pm
5
0
Hardcore there was.

As Yoda might say.

I was a "semi" hardcore fan. Couldn't make each and every game, but made at least 2 or 3 games per month.

Wished I could have attended more. Because it was worth every cent each and every time I went.

Hugely entertaining! It's a dang shame we couldn't keep them, but I observed a slack/dwindling audience.

Not sure what it takes to keep a semi-pro team of any sport in this town.

I just know we need to wake the heck up and support something, 'else we'll be without any to support.

NA is getting our baseball team, Macon has our hockey team.

What exactly is "exciting" enough to keep peeps in Augusta interested enough to support...anything?

Sometimes I think this town is just jaded. Caring nothing about our future, just obsessing on our past.

bdouglas
5035
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bdouglas 06/26/14 - 09:16 am
4
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@Young Fred

Personally, I never felt like the Riverhawks management ever really "got it" when it came to promotions and entertainment during the downtime in the games. The Lynx staff did a fantastic job of this with excitement in those downtimes in the game with the "Frozen Tundra" driving out on the ice with the t-shirt cannon, Louie the Lynx always doing high energy stuff, even Chuck-a-Puck seemed more exciting at those games...but attendance was much better, too, so that could be it. I just never felt like the Riverhawks put much effort into it. The whole "Kenny Bobby" character that came out during the games on a golf cart was always pretty lame and boring to me. The Lynx did, and the Greenjackets still do seem to get it when it comes to promotions and keeping the fans engaged at games. The last rain delay I was in at a Greenjackets game was every bit as fun as the game itself was because of the great team of folks they have...infinitely more exciting than the downtime at a Riverhawks game.

Young Fred
17467
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Young Fred 06/26/14 - 10:28 am
4
0
They had

Tee shirt cannons and chuck-a-puck at the games I attended!

Regardless, I always viewed the "down time" as a chance to drain and replenish if you get my drift.

I guess I was just a fan of the game, the reason I attended.

But I get your drift. These days, start to finish action is needed to keep most peoples attention, which is why the percentage of high quality movies drops every year that passes.

I know, "high quality" is subjective. I'm talking brain candy vs eye candy.

Darby
25701
Points
Darby 06/26/14 - 12:09 pm
3
1
"And what sport is Augusta's?

Football? NOPE
Baseball? NOPE
Hockey? NOPE

hmmmmmm........... checkers?"

.
Mumblety-peg, Pick-up Jacks???

How about DODGE-BALL???

historylover
8899
Points
historylover 06/26/14 - 12:17 pm
1
1
New Arena

I know this won't be a popular idea, but I have always thought that the old Regency Mall location would be an ideal location for a new arena. There is lots of land, it's easily accessible via Gordon Highway from I-20 and South Carolina. There is plenty of parking and it could be a beautiful, very secure venue. What do you think Countyman?? Could it be done?

jimmymac
39881
Points
jimmymac 06/26/14 - 12:38 pm
0
0
ARENA
Unpublished

No Matter what anyone thinks people want to feel safe when they attend an event. Many kids would go to games sans parents but what parent would want their kid strolling around Augusta after dark?

Young Fred
17467
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Young Fred 06/26/14 - 05:39 pm
1
0
Regency Mall

Location is just begging to be used. Of course, it's not in the best of locations. But still it's there and begging to be used.

I'm trying to think of a sport the town would get behind and support. Baseball and hockey is out. Football? I just don't see it. Basketball? Perhaps, but you'd have to have a venue that could sell cheap tickets and take a lot ( a whole lot) of abuse.

Maybe curling or badminton perhaps? No, just can't see the youngsters, or oldsters attending in droves.

I say raze the old mall and make a race track, a short race track out of it. You'd have to police the bad apples, which would be an almost herculean event, but it could work. Young and old likes fast cars, and good food. Just make sure the people with the money (the old) feel comfortable enough to attend. With proper supervision, even the most "itz real" youngsters would behave and have a good time.

Young Fred
17467
Points
Young Fred 06/26/14 - 05:48 pm
0
0
Does anyone remember

A famous psychic "forsaw" the mall caving in. I swear, me and my teenage buds always had an eye towards the ceiling when we went to the mall.

Maybe she just had her timing a bit off, 'cause it will cave at some point.

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