Construction at Augusta Entertainment Complex nears start

Though both are funded through the same Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority bond issue, improvements at James Brown Arena and Bell Auditorium are taking longer to get under way than Augusta’s new Trade, Exhibit and Event Center.

Construction of the TEE Center parking deck is complete, and work on the new TEE Center is 18 months in. Bids from contractors to complete about $5 million in repairs to the city-owned civic center and auditorium are due Dec. 22, authority attorney Ed Enoch said at a Tuesday board meeting.

The improvements include upgrades to the roof, restrooms and meeting rooms, along with mechanical electrical repairs. Bids are expected to come in well under $5 million, allowing the excess to fund new club-level VIP seating, board member Brad Usry said.

The authority issued $22.12 million in revenue bonds in September 2010, with $5 million in proceeds from their sale to fund improvements at James Brown Arena and Bell Auditorium, and the remainder used along with sales-tax dollars to construct the TEE Center complex. The authority’s bond debt is to be paid solely through hotel-motel taxes and, upon completion of the TEE Center, the authority will sell it to the city for the balance of the 2010 bond obligation, according to financial statements received by board members Tuesday.

The announcement that Lady Antebellum will perform May 22 at James Brown Arena was made after Tuesday’s authority meeting, where General Manager Monty Jones said the preceding 10 days had been record-setting. The facilities had seen 11 events and more than 37,500 in attendance, including 21,000 who went to Disney on Ice.