If you think the Hippodrome is just for horse-related events, think again. A new development plan is in motion to create a venue not only for sports events but also for concerts, festivals and other activities.
Officials on Friday announced the plan, which included renaming the facility the Hippodrome Events Complex. The 24th annual Border Bash on Nov. 3 as the debut event in the updated facility.
“We feel very strongly that downtown Augusta and North Augusta deserve a top-notch events center,” said Brian Graham, the corporate director of events for Morris Communications. “We’re dedicated to creating a first-class venue.”
The plan involves partnerships with several organizations, including CitySpin, which provides an online ticketing platform. The City Spin Arena at the complex will be part of an outdoor space that can be transformed for use for all types of events. Renovations are currently being made and will be in place by the Border Bash event.
Joe Stevenson, of Gluestick Music, said he was excited about this year’s Border Bash.
The lineup includes visits by the University of Georgia and the University of South Carolina cheerleaders and the mascots and performances by Eve 6, Ashley McBryde and Black Dawg.
Stevenson said they will make the most of the Hippodrome’s vantage point above Augusta’s skyline by having a fireworks show at the end of the Bash.
“That’s never been done before. We felt fireworks were a great way to rebrand the Border Bash and rebrand the Hippodrome,” he said.
Border Bash is a fundraiser for children’s charities in the area and has raised more than $900,000 in its history.
Tickets go on sale Tuesday. They will cost $15 in advance and $20 on the day of the event.
After Border Bash, Graham said, a plan will be drawn up to determine the course of future development. A timeline for that is uncertain at this point.
The land on U.S. Highway 1 in North Augusta was purchased because of the success of the Augusta Futurity, according to Pete May, whom Graham replaced after he retired this year.
The futurity began in 1980, but by 1983, there were too many horses involved in the competition.
“We had 600 horses in the parking lot one year,” he said.
Eleven acres were initially purchased, and three barns were built. Over the years, more land has been purchased and more development including the addition of the disc golf complex, which has been the site of the National Collegiate Disc Golf Championships for several years. More than 100 teams competed in the event in April.
The Hippodrome Events Complex has been the site of other special events, including the High Flyer Festival in April after the conclusion of the disc golf championships, and next weekend, there is an antiques market.
The site is near major roads such as Interstate 520 and has plenty of parking, Graham said.
Over the next few days, the Hippodrome, which serves as an evacuation site, will be filling up as people bring all varieties of animals to be sheltered from Hurricane Irma.