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.