Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority hopes to help cover persistent annual operating losses by spending $500,000 or more on new VIP seating at James Brown Arena.
The authority, which governs Augusta Entertainment Complex but leaves management of the two facilities to the private firm Global Spectrum, authorized spending $9,000 for Loudermilk Group to produce conceptual drawings of the seating.
Global Spectrum marketing firm Front Row needs the drawings to begin marketing annual VIP memberships, authority board member Brad Usry said at a meeting Tuesday.
Authority chairman Cedric Johnson said marketing the memberships first will ensure adequate interest exists to move forward with the project, which could generate at least $200,000 annually for Augusta Entertainment Complex, which is composed of Bell Auditorium and James Brown Arena.
"What the city would really like us to do is be self-sufficient," Johnson said.
"If we could break even, it would be a major accomplishment."
An income statement released Tuesday shows the facilities posted a year-to-date operating loss of $543,586. Last year, Augusta Entertainment Complex lost $634,267.
The authority was issuer for $25 million in bonds, including $20 million for work on the new downtown TEE Center, with the remainder to fund repairs and renovations at the entertainment complex.
The project's top-tier items are unlikely to exceed $4 million, with enough left over to construct the VIP seating, said Monty Jones, who manages the complex for Global Spectrum.
In other business, Jones mentioned efforts he was making to address concerns held by the North Georgia Annual Conference of United Methodists.
The four-day conference left Augusta's civic center in 2002 after delegates were greeted by rude catering staffers, late meals, and meeting space and bathrooms littered with trash. The incident, which took place before Global Spectrum took over, led the authority to fire its general manager and refund the conference $54,000.
Among this month's successes, Jones said, were the May 11 Dierks Bentley concert, with 2,100 attendees, and two performances of The Color Purple , which drew 4,300 people to Bell Auditorium.
Authority member Shirley Darby said she was disappointed, however, that no free tickets were available to board members for the play.
Jones said that members were welcome to show their badges and go into the facilities to check things out during performances but that Global Spectrum had little control over dispensing complimentary tickets.