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Augusta leaders not concerned about events leaving county

Saturday, March 2, 2013 3:24 PM
Last updated Sunday, March 3, 2013 12:58 AM
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As several annual events leave Augusta for its suburban neighbor, Commissioner Joe Jackson worries about what’s left in the dust.

The city loses sales tax revenue, hotel fees and restaurant business while Columbia County counts its gains, Jackson said.

“We’re losing out all around,” he said.

Organizers of the popular Masters Week concert Rock Fore! Dough announced in February that the event would leave First Tee of Augusta, its home for eight years, for Lady Antebellum Pavilion in Evans Towne Center Park.

Columbia County has also picked up Thunder Over Augusta, a military tribute event originally held in downtown Augusta, and Banjo-B-Que, which relocated from North Augusta. Promoters of Christmas Made in the South, a trade show held at James Brown Arena for more than two decades, are also looking at a move to Columbia County in 2014.

Other Augusta leaders said they aren’t concerned about losing out. Single-day events aren’t big economic drivers, they say, and Augusta piggybacks on nearby events.

“Things that benefit Au­gusta also benefit Columbia County, and vice versa.” Mayor Deke Copenhaver said. “I don’t think we could be doing anything differently.”

He said the city isn’t hurt by location changes as long as events stay in the metro area. Economic development must be viewed regionally, he said.

Barry White, the president and CEO of the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the economic impact to Augusta-Richmond County is negligible. Facilities lose revenue but people still eat at Augusta restaurants and stay in its hotels, White said.

“People don’t pay attention to county lines or state lines,” he said.

The bureau does not conduct an economic analysis on Rock Fore! Dough, Christ­mas Made in the South or Thunder Over Augusta.

Jackson’s not convinced White and Copenhaver are right. He says Augusta needs to focus on building a reputation for hosting tourism events.

“Augusta can do a lot more to really promote – through the convention and visitors bureau and the chamber – to help bring and retain these people coming in,” he said.

Commissioner Donnie Smith said events at the new Au­gusta Convention Center will make up for the few events moving to Columbia County.

“Whatever we lose, we will probably make up with the opening of the TEE Center,” Smith said.

Columbia County is creating a niche for outdoor concerts but Augusta is succeeding in special sporting events such as the ESi Ironman 70.3, Copenhaver said.

Event organizers said moving to Columbia County is a business decision meant to help increase profits.

Rock Fore! Dough promoter Joe Stevenson, the owner of GlueStick Music, said Augusta lacks an outdoor music venue. He saved costs by moving to Lady Antebellum Pavilion instead of setting up a stage at First Tee of Augusta.

“I don’t think this is a mass exodus to Columbia County,” he said. “It might look that way, but great things come to James Brown Arena.”

The concert was a big draw for Columbia County residents, Stevenson said, with a large amount of tickets sold at Kroger in Evans.

Bob Hunt, the president of Carolina Shows Inc., which produces Christmas Made in the South, said moving to a new venue could help ticket sales. Attendance has steadily dropped in recent years, especially from Columbia County ticket buyers.

Parking costs have increased at James Brown Arena, and the show pays additional fees for laying a floor over the arena’s ice rink, he said. It will return to the arena this fall.

Hunt said the Augusta Convention Center offers the ideal square footage, but not enough parking spots. Columbia County’s under-construction exhibit hall at the Gateway center might be too small without adequate parking.

Columbia County Com­mis­sion Chairman Ron Cross said county leaders have not recruited any of the events that have left Augusta.

“We’re considerate of the value of our partnership with Augusta-Richmond County,” Cross said. “We don’t look at it as a competitive thing.”

He said the county has offered financial sponsorship for some events that a committee determines are build the community. A contribution of up to $8,000 will go toward the organizer of Masters Week activities.

Columbia County has not measured the economic impact of the Evans Town Cen­ter events. Cross said it’s likely small because the events do not attract out-of-town visitors staying in hotels.

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Little Lamb
46413
Points
Little Lamb 03/02/13 - 04:38 pm
1
1
Lady Antebellum

I say again that the Kroger store in Evans Towne Centre is missing out on concerts at the Lady A Pavilion. They could set up seating on their roof, set up some grills and cook ribs, chicken and burgers and sell cokes, beer and wine from the store up on the roof. People would get a concert along with a great outdoor party. Kroger would make some serious dough along with the rock and fore.

TrulyWorried
14541
Points
TrulyWorried 03/02/13 - 05:20 pm
2
0
Kroger's roof top

AFTER the reinforced the roof -

seenitB4
88314
Points
seenitB4 03/02/13 - 05:23 pm
3
0
All I can say is.....

Keep movin', movin', movin',
Though they're disapprovin',
Keep them doggies movin' Rawhide!
Don't try to understand 'em,
Just rope and throw and grab 'em,
Soon we'll be living high and wide.
Boy my heart's calculatin'
My true love will be waitin', be waiting at the end of my ride.

Move 'em on, head 'em up,
Head 'em up, move 'em out,
Move 'em on, head 'em out Rawhide!
Set 'em out, ride 'em in
Ride 'em in, let 'em out,
Cut 'em out, ride 'em in Rawhide.

Jake
32770
Points
Jake 03/02/13 - 05:26 pm
1
1
@LL

Yeah, but the performers would not be compensated for their performances which, in a way, is cheating to me. If Kroger did such a thing then they should share some of the profits with the organizers of the concerts.

Jake
32770
Points
Jake 03/02/13 - 05:30 pm
2
0
@seenit

I could see you and Rowdy Yates sitting around the campfire with Gil Favor as a chaperone. I bet Wishbone would be trying to muscle in though.

countyman
20245
Points
countyman 03/02/13 - 05:44 pm
2
8
Why does everything have to

Why does everything have to be a competition? Who cares if four out of hundred local events move to Columbia County? The residents of Columbia County spend their money in Richmond County daily. The county is apart of the metro, and the events can help out the both of them.

The city loses hotel fees? The only hotels in Columbia County are the few with an Augusta or Grovetown address on Jimmie Dyess.

The Rock for Dough concert might be located in Evans, but the visitors from out of town will spend the majority of their time shopping, eating, and lodging in Richmond County during Masters week. What's wrong if some of the visitors eat at the restaurants in Evans?

I think Richmond County needs to focus on attracting more events similar to Westobou, Arts in the Heart, gay parade & festival, ESI Ironman, etc who attract people from around the southeast.

Joe Jackson should be looking at ways to improve the Arts in the Heart or Westobou(events who have attracted over 70k and 100k) instead of worrying about local events.

Dixieman
15337
Points
Dixieman 03/02/13 - 05:40 pm
7
2
2000000 POINTS

Well, OF COURSE they SAY that!
Do they BELIEVE it?
Nope.

countyman
20245
Points
countyman 03/02/13 - 06:01 pm
1
7
Blame the media

Dixieman... The only event who brings in people from out of town is the Rock for Dough. Those people who live out of town have to drive back to their hotels to spend the night, or the home their renting.

I think it's good to have multiple events all of the CSRA, and metro area.

The news media continuously focuses on the negative in Richmond, and the positive in Columbia. Then you have people like Joe Jackson who have no choice, but to become defensive sometimes.

I mean he even said the city loses hotel fees. Losing the fees to who actually? The only event attracting hotel guest is the Rock for Dough, and they came here for the Masters. Does anybody think the upscale guest are choosing the hotels in Columbia County(i don't even think it's 10 of them) compared to Richmond.

If these people look the annual visitor spending between Richmond and Columbia. They would notice how Columbia County is not even on the radar in terms of millions compared to Richmond. The only counties ahead of Richmond are Fulton, Dekalb, Gwinnett, Cobb(metro Atlanta) and Chatham(Savannah).

I'm Back Again
307
Points
I'm Back Again 03/02/13 - 06:02 pm
0
0
Columbia county will have
Unpublished

Columbia county will have it's own brand new civic center for concerts, guaranteed. But hey, Augusta will still have that awesome 100 gazillion million dollar TEE center that never makes a dime.

rebellious
20916
Points
rebellious 03/02/13 - 06:42 pm
6
0
Now I am REALLY confused....

Augusta spends big dollars on a specific location for conventions, then when events bail for CC we say "No problem" What the heck is going on? You can't have it both ways. Augusta wants the business right? Either we want the concerts to revitalize Augusta or we don't! Good Gawd, man, grow a backbone and stand for something.

rebellious
20916
Points
rebellious 03/02/13 - 06:43 pm
2
0
Calling Countyman

I lost your contact info and need to touch base. Please reach out to me via my contact tab.

SemperParatus
3225
Points
SemperParatus 03/02/13 - 06:55 pm
3
0
Yes and Maybe

Read the two following sentences which are from the article above. The Chronicle states that Smith said "will" but then Smith actually said "probably". Who is right and who is wrong?

Commissioner Donnie Smith said events at the new Au­gusta Convention Center WILL make up for the few events moving to Columbia County.

“Whatever we lose, we will PROBABLY make up with the opening of the TEE Center,” Smith said.

Little Lamb
46413
Points
Little Lamb 03/02/13 - 07:43 pm
5
0
Hedging

Yes, SP; the hedge, the equivocation, the exit strategy, the deniability — those are the hallmarks of the unprincipled. Those are the hallmarks of the politician.

Riverman1
84962
Points
Riverman1 03/02/13 - 08:05 pm
5
1
I didn't like her anyway. She

I didn't like her anyway. She was really stupid, ugly and had a bad personality. I won't think about her one bit. If she goes out with another guy, I don't care. I really, really, really don't care. Let me tell you what she did one time.... When will this stop hurting?

itsanotherday1
43845
Points
itsanotherday1 03/02/13 - 08:30 pm
4
1
I predicted several years ago

I predicted several years ago on the old forums that if Augusta didn't get its act together with the racial divisiveness/politics, and the residents opposing any money spent on amenities, things would migrate to surrounding areas.

This, and the GJ proposal for NA may or may not be some of the first harbingers of just that. All that needs to happen now is for someone to build a new arena and performing arts center outside of downtown and you can stick a fork in it.

Personally, I hope not. What is good for Augusta is good for the area.

countyman
20245
Points
countyman 03/02/13 - 09:08 pm
3
3
Biased articles.

Rebellious. The Rock for Dough is a outdoor concert for instance, and would never go to the TEE Center. The TEE center has 20 events, and can't attract everything. In the perfect world you would love to keep every single event, but you must focus on the true money makers. The people behind some of those different events may want to become the big fish in Columbia County compared to the multiple events/festivals in Richmond County.

Itsanotherday1... I don't why you guys let the Chronicle fool you into believing Richmond County is competing against it's suburbs. Do you honestly think those little events have much affect? The ESI Ironman is the type of the huge event which put Augusta on another level. I always laugh at the sky is falling comments because Augusta is much further ahead compared to Athens, Macon, and Columbus in attracting tourism. How can people think Augusta is doing nothing then, and Columbia/Aiken are going strong in tourism? When The ESI Ironman, and US Cycling Championships were held in the same year. The answer is the local media, and their articles like this. I don't remember the article were the Chronicle asked the leaders of Columbia County about Electrolux coming to West Augusta.

Richmond... $380 million
Columbia... $114 million

http://www.georgia.org/SiteCollectionDocuments/Industries/Tourism/Indust...

I'll repeat Augusta should focus on the Westobou, Gay Parade & Festival, St Patricks Day, Hispanic festival, Greek festival, etc.

justputtin
1414
Points
justputtin 03/02/13 - 09:37 pm
6
0
Parade? Yay!

That's what we need, a happy parade!

itsanotherday1
43845
Points
itsanotherday1 03/02/13 - 11:42 pm
3
0
Countyman

I'm on your side, I want Augusta to prosper; but from the outside looking in, I'm seeing a glass half empty. Between the racial divisiveness in the political leadership and the populace being negative to investment because of it; I don't have a lot of hope.

countyman
20245
Points
countyman 03/03/13 - 01:47 am
2
1
The local politics will have

The local politics will have to catch up with the community sooner or later. The racial division is no worse than any other similar size city. A white mayor won two straight elections with over 60% of the vote right here in Augusta. I never claimed the leadership of Augusta is full of visionaries or extraordinary progressive people. The inland port make sense, and could happen in the future. I do think you have to give Augusta credit for some of the recent developments.

1. Raised over $20 million for the $100 million Kroc
2. $500k Richmond County master plan= $1.8 million grant
3. Laney Walker/Bethlehem
4. Augusta Regional 200 acre industrial park/General Perry Smith pkwy
5. Demolishing of Gilbert Manor($112 million dental school & $76 million Medical Commons)

Justputtin. With the right advertisement you can easily increase the number of people(thousands)from Atlanta, Charlotte, Columbia, Charleston, Savannah, and Greenville attending the gay parade & festival.

soapy_725
43686
Points
soapy_725 03/03/13 - 09:23 am
0
0
countyman likes the proposal of a name change for the TEE,
Unpublished

the The Ben Dover Center.

soapy_725
43686
Points
soapy_725 03/03/13 - 09:33 am
0
0
Sometimes the truth comes from unusual places....
Unpublished

Of course the "so called leaders of ARC" do not care if private enterprise fails in ARC. The "so called leaders" have a blank check written on the Bank of Taxpayer Revenue. Both the local branch and the federal bank in Washington.

ARC government enterprise will continue to grow and grow despite whatever befalls any local industry.

Totalitarian Government, We Are There. Self perpetuating, self funded, self absolving, self regulated.

Anyone in ARC who believes that Deke/countyman, Fred, Paul, Wild Bill or the commissioners give a rat's patootie about them can just send in their hard earned tax money and shut up.

Go to the polls and kick the bums out. NOT!! The candidates are hand picked and promoted by the same money men and power brokers. Same lot. Different shades. Different economics.

Young Fred
17614
Points
Young Fred 03/03/13 - 11:09 am
3
0
I've been a CSRA kind of guy

I've been a CSRA kind of guy just about my whole life. Lived in Richmond, Columbia, Burke, Aiken, Edgefield, and Barnwell counties.

Frankly, I, and most people I know don't give a damn which county a certain event is held. We all like the history and heritage which is Augusta, though other counties have their own, just not quite as famous (or infamous). We look forward to our visits downtown, probably just a hair more than our visits to events in the surrounding counties. Just a HAIR more.

Because you see, it's all about the event. And while Augusta has it's charms, it also has its detriments.

I would also caution that over-promoting certain events in Augusta, will push even more events out-of Augusta. If you want to have Augusta make a challenge as the gay pride parade capital of the Southeast, by all means go for it. You'll attract a certain segment of the population, and the neighboring counties will continue to grow events that “other” segments of the population wish to attend.

Brad Owens
4583
Points
Brad Owens 03/03/13 - 12:28 pm
2
0
Oh Deke, what are you trying to say?

No one seems to be thinking about the little man that benefited from these events.

Does Deke and Barry REALLLLY think that folks will drive from Evans to downtown to have dinner at The Boars Head or Nacho Mama's after or before one of these events?

They don't care because they don't depend on foot traffic for their paychecks, but all of this will most certainly HURT the small businesses downtown.

Deke must be thinking about his run for office at a higher level because he is "thinking regionally" (eyes rolling), more like not thinking at all about anyone else.

Also, did someone say that there is NOT enough parking at the TEE to have the Xmas in the South event? Not true, the other statement about attendance from "CC" folks is the real reason.

Now RC is going to learn about the hard lessons of REAL math and business. There is no loyalty considered when locations affect profits.

If you build it, they will come? Only if "they" are not afraid they will be robbed, raped or murdered, and let's face it folks, most folks in CC view RC with a non-filtered or nostalgic lens these days.

I have always said safety and security should be the first consideration in any "revitalization" efforts downtown if we want to turn things around. The perception of things being crime ridden and dangerous keeps the suburbanites, and their disposable income, away.

We better get our act together or else this trickle will become an exodus flood.

Brad

P.S. At what point would the local "leaders" become concerned?

dichotomy
33560
Points
dichotomy 03/03/13 - 12:51 pm
2
0
Yessir, I'm looking forward

Yessir, I'm looking forward to the day when things have improved so much we route the bicycle races through South Augusta and Southeast Richmond County. When we fill up the sink hole on Doug Bernard Pkwy so visitors to the city don't have to dodge it when they fly in. To the day they actually attract enough residents that someone builds a house on those 7000 acres of vacant residentially taxed property out here. To the day everbody in the county actually pays the same taxes and fees and gets the same level of services. Yessir, don't say I don't have the best of hopes for my area of the county. When Augusta/Richmond County makes itself a good place for the RESIDENTS......ALL RESIDENTS, it will automatically be a good place for the tourists. Until then I resent having my quality of life diminished by taking all of our tax money to draw tourists downtown and artificially prettying up the downtown area for them.

countyman
20245
Points
countyman 03/03/13 - 01:35 pm
1
3
I'm positive folks will drive

I'm positive folks will drive to Richmond County and downtown after the Rock for Dough. The majority of hotels and homes for rent are located in Richmond county.

Does anybody really think Masters guest all of a sudden won't pack the Surrey Center?

The job of our leaders are to make the citizens of Richmond County feel safe. Richmond County is the main county in the area, and doesn't revolve around Columbia County. The Arts in the Heart festival attracts over 70k, and had no problem attracting local people from outside of Richmond county downtown. The Christmas made in the South is a much smaller event, but probably wants to be the big fish in Columbia County. The Market on the River attracts people from all over the CSRA downtown weekly.

Why can the Arts in the Heart continue to grow and bloom downtown? The attendance of CC residents at the Christmas made in the South might have decreased, but it had nothing to do with the location. The Rock for Dough is moving, because of the setup and nothing to with public safety.

The exhibition hall in Grovetown 'might' have one event, and the TEE Center downtown has 20. The real estate prices of the CBD are higher than Grovetown, and non locals can easily see which areas are safe to bring their event too.

The news media will never report the majority of crime outside of RC, and that's fighting a losing battle.

L A Williams
63
Points
L A Williams 03/03/13 - 04:21 pm
2
0
Things will never change

It's beautiful here on the Mountain. The issues are the issues. Taxes are reasonable. We know how to put politicians who just won't listen in the street.

Unfortunately, Augusta's political leaders (read hacks) have shown you time and time again they just don't care, unless it interferes with their agenda's.

Augusta what a wasted potential.

Good luck all. Try electing responsive, responsible Leadership, stop the racially distructive game playing.

soitgoes
820
Points
soitgoes 03/04/13 - 08:44 am
0
0
the first stage is denial

the mass exodus has only increased with the election of Marion Williams AGAIN (???!!!) and a sheriff who was fired from the sheriff's office for negligence in office. Then HE had the gall and unmitigated nerve to completely fabricate stories about himself. ARC has already admitted that it is taxing its citizens differently between the "haves" and the "have nots"; gotta be a lawsuit on the way. I give Augusta-Richmond County 4 years before it starts a tailspin of deficit spending and rampant taxation, then bankruptcy. but so it goes...

lifelongresident
1323
Points
lifelongresident 03/04/13 - 04:30 pm
0
0
hey joe, i thought the TEE
Unpublished

hey joe, i thought the TEE center, (you know "ole billy's" magical building the one we the citizens of rich cnty paid to have built and paying to be managed) was the answer to all of augusta-rich cnty's problems....WHAT HAPPENED??????

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