Masters Tournament commits $6 million for new cancer facility, children's camp

Michael Holahan/ staff
Braye Boardman of the Community Foundation for the Central Savannah River Area announces a $6 million commitment from the Masters Tournament to help fund a new cancer facility in Augusta.
Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 10:43 AM
Last updated 8:35 PM
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Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhave talks about the importance of having a new cancer facility in Augusta after the announcement of a $6 million commitment from the Masters Tournament to help fund it Tuesday morning.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhave talks about the importance of having a new cancer facility in Augusta after the announcement of a $6 million commitment from the Masters Tournament to help fund it Tuesday morning.

A new cancer center at Georgia Regents University got a big boost from the Masters Tournament on Tuesday in securing crucial local matching funding needed to release state bond money.

The Community Foundation for the Central Savannah River Area announced a $6 million commitment from the tournament to help meet the local match needed for a new cancer research building at GRU and for a camp for children with disabilities and illnesses. The gift is in addition to the annual support the Masters provides through the foundation to dozens of local charities, said Augusta National Golf Club spokesman Steve Ethun.

GRU Cancer Center Director Samir Khleif said $4 million of that gift will go toward the $12.5 million local match needed to build the facility. It is part of a drive to make the GRU cancer center the state’s second National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center, behind Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University, but Georgia’s first at a public university. The University System of Georgia Board of Regents already has $45 million in bond funding sold for the $62.5 million project, and $5 million more in bond funding is budgeted.

GRU has pledged to raise the remaining $12.5 million, and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget requires that two-thirds of that be in the bank before it will release the bond funding. Because the bond funding was sold this fiscal year, the budget office would like to see that money in the bank by the end of this fiscal year, June 30, so the project can stay on track, an official said last month.

Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver has led the charge to get the city to provide the remaining local support, eventually through the next special purpose local option sales tax funding. To speed up the process, the Augusta Commission on Tuesday approved an $8 million loan that would help provide the funding necessary to meet the required local match until the sales tax funding becomes available. The foundation’s news released noted that $8.5 million in private support was needed, and Copenhaver did not return calls Tuesday night to address the $500,000 discrepancy.

“To me, it’s personal,” Copenhaver said at Tuesday morning’s announcement of the $6 million gift. “I lost my mother to cancer. I want us to be a destination for healing.”

The 115,000-square-foot research building would be the first part of what eventually will be a much larger facility that would allow the cancer center to consolidate its research and all of its clinical treatment areas in one place, Khleif said.

“The reason this is the first phase is this is what is available currently from the state” and the other sources, he said.

A design firm has been selected by the Board of Regents, and concept work has begun. Design and program development typically take about a year, Khleif said. A second phase would be up to 190,000 square feet, and a third phase is possible after that, he said. Later phases are more likely to be paid for by fundraising and clinical revenue, he said.

Now, patients might travel to a dozen different places to get all of their care, from chemotherapy to imaging to oral care, but that will be in one place in the future, together with research, which should enhance the chances of getting the NCI designation, Khleif said.

“It helps in the NCI designation on multiple levels, particularly when you have all of the clinicians and the basic scientists under one roof,” he said. “That enhances interaction and potentially enhances the development of novel clinical trials. And it enhances the collaboration and the generation of grants.”

It also shows a commitment, not only from the university but also the community and the state, which is something the NCI looks for, Khleif said.

Getting the designation is usually at least an eight-year process, and he estimated the university could achieve it by 2019 or 2020.

The designation not only includes enhanced funding but also elevates a cancer center’s status. Khleif said the center could become “one of the destination cancer centers nationally for therapy and treatment and of course to put it on the national map as one of the best in the country.”

The cancer center is already attracting acclaim for its work in immunotherapy and cancer vaccines, “so we’re looking into a very bright future,” he said.

“We’re looking into a future that helps our patients and community with great service,” Khleif said.

In addition to the cancer center, the gift announced Tuesday will help create Camp Lakeside, a children’s camp in Lincoln County. It will be a collaboration among the cancer center, Children’s Hospital of Georgia and The Family Y of Greater Augusta. The camp will include 20 cabins; a multipurpose building with a gym, cafeteria and meeting rooms; a swimming pool; a tennis court; and a playground.

“Through the Masters Tournament, we remain committed to the tradition established by our founders to give back, and that includes sharing our resources with the community that supports us so graciously,” said Billy Payne, the chairman of Augusta National and the Masters.

Staff Writer Susan McCord contributed to this report.

Comments (14)

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tl-bro
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tl-bro 02/18/14 - 12:03 pm
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Anyone...

Anyone still want to complain about traffic, Berckman's Road, etc.?

countyman
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countyman 02/18/14 - 12:16 pm
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Masters

Or how the Augusta National is 'removed' from the local community and the city shouldn't help build the Cancer Center?

itsanotherday1
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itsanotherday1 02/18/14 - 12:35 pm
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Exactly ti-bro

I get sooo fed up with the naysayers criticizing the Masters. AGNC is a darned good community friend.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 02/18/14 - 12:42 pm
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The Master's is the greatest

The Master's is the greatest asset Augusta has. They give not only this year, but every year to local charities. Of course this has nothing to do with county tax money being diverted to state facilities.

countyman
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countyman 02/18/14 - 12:51 pm
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Augusta..

Where is the state facility going to be located? What city in Georgia will reap the most benefits from the construction of the building?

1. NIH funds
2. Jobs
3. Revenue
4. Transplants
5. New businesses/employers

The Godfather
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The Godfather 02/18/14 - 01:14 pm
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man those guys are good.....

man those guys are good.....

Truth Matters
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Truth Matters 02/18/14 - 01:18 pm
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A good neighbor.... Not to

A good neighbor....
Not to mention the job opportunities for local teens (and some post-teens) during Masters Week. For many youngsters, working at the Masters is their first "job."

bdouglas
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bdouglas 02/18/14 - 02:11 pm
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Probably about 1/4 day's

Probably about 1/4 day's revenue during tournament week for them. A drop in their proverbial bucket. Glad to see they're continuing to make good use of it and help the community!

corgimom
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corgimom 02/18/14 - 04:01 pm
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Why should RC taxpayers pay

Why should RC taxpayers pay for a state-owned building?

Do the people in Athens pay for any buildings on the UGA campus?

And does anybody really think that the State of Georgia would not be able to supply the $8 million?

corgimom
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corgimom 02/18/14 - 04:01 pm
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I am willing to bet anybody

I am willing to bet anybody $100 that Deke's name is going to be on the building, somehow, someway.

And that's what is behind this.

willie7
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willie7 02/18/14 - 05:20 pm
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Kudos to the Augusta

Unpublished

Kudos to the Augusta National!!!
A great community citizen.

Butterman
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Butterman 02/19/14 - 12:01 am
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Berkman's Road

And how much is that Berkman's Road rerouting costing Augusta taxpayers?

soapy_725
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soapy_725 02/19/14 - 09:01 am
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Deke Copenhaver-Boardman Cancer Center for Life. Hmmmmm

Unpublished

Deke Copenhaver-Boardman Cancer Center for Life. Hmmmmm

soapy_725
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soapy_725 02/19/14 - 09:03 am
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Which shell is the $$ pea under? GRU, ARC, DEKE, BRAY, ALLEN

Unpublished

Which shell is the $$ pea under? GRU, ARC, DEKE, BRAY, ALLEN

soapy_725
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soapy_725 02/19/14 - 09:05 am
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They have all made so many selfless contributions to ARC. LOL

Unpublished

They have all made so many selfless contributions to ARC. LOL

redfish
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redfish 02/19/14 - 09:11 am
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To Butterman and corgimom....

The two of you should really consider moving to another city.

teaparty
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teaparty 02/19/14 - 09:22 am
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refish, corigmom said she

Unpublished

refish, corigmom said she lives in another city. She is so very smart and knows everything and likes to share her brilliance with us.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 02/19/14 - 09:31 am
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Hah

Well corgi does read a lot! :)

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