Company enters bid to run James Brown Arena

An entertainment and convention venue management company wants to put Augusta's James Brown Arena and Bell Auditorium on the entertainment world radar and give them visibility -- all for an annual management fee and with the authority paying all the expenses.

 

A four-member sales team from SMG Management Co. made a pitch Thursday before the Coliseum Authority management search committee and most of the board.

"We're out there making it happen in small and large facilities," said Robert L. Cavalieri, the senior vice president, business development .

The Philadelphia-based company is the largest of its kind in the country and manages theaters, performing arts centers and convention centers worldwide, and has turned many around from losing operations to successes, he said.

Mr. Cavalieri promised to "fight to see that any event" coming Augusta's way comes to the civic center complex.

He and other team members praised the facilities and said their age doesn't matter.

"Nobody buys a ticket to see a building," he said. "If the customer service is great and the building is clean and the ticket buying is easy and the whole experience is pleasant, they'll come back."

According to Mr. Cavalieri and Harry Cann, the senior regional vice president of operations, Augusta fits perfectly in their network of venues and is the only such company that has no conflict with nearby competing facilities.

Civic center employees would work for SMG, which also would interview and recommend finalists for the general manager's position, but the Coliseum Authority would hire the general manager.

SMG is the first of two companies to make presentations. Next week, the committee will hear from Global Spectrum, which manages the USC Aiken Convocation Center.

If authority members can agree to pick one of them at their June 24 meeting, the lawyers will negotiate a contract for them to approve.

After Thursday's presentation, management search committee Chairman Freddie Sanders called the meeting very beneficial.

"It's amazing that we listened to a lot of problems that we have that seem to be throughout the industry," he said.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylvia.cooper@augustachronicle.com.

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