By its inaction in solving the ice problem at the James Brown Arena, Richmond County’s leadership, at all levels, has demonstrated it is unwilling to support minor-league sports teams and other events that require ice. In fact, the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority hasn’t even had the courtesy to inform the Augusta RiverHawks ownership of exactly what the plans are for the JBA; as a consequence, the team has gone on hiatus for a season, hoping that new equipment required for making and sustaining the ice will be installed.
No one should be surprised at the dearth of leadership in Richmond County; its shortsightedness in shoring up the county’s entertainment venues are causing events that were traditionally held in Augusta to bolt for nicer venues and better support in Columbia County. Therefore, I challenge Commission Chairman Ron Cross and the rest of the Columbia County leadership to seize the moment by hastening Columbia County’s emergence as the new epicenter of entertainment in the CSRA.
Columbia County should evaluate the feasibility of building an entertainment/arena complex to serve the county’s and the CSRA’s residents. Towne Center Park appears to be an incredibly successful venue – I see it packed each weekend with residents enjoying concerts and other events. Cities with similar or smaller populations than Augusta (Columbus; Biloxi, Miss.; Fayetteville, N.C.; and Huntsville, Ala., to name a few) enjoy modest-sized indoor arenas that are clean, modern, flexible and properly maintained, and enhance the livability of their metro areas.
I am not encouraged that Augusta ever will get around to replacing the JBA or even investing what is needed to bring it to a state of repair befitting the state’s second-largest city. I am aware that such an endeavor would cost money – but I suspect that, if done transparently and with input from county residents, such an undertaking could be accomplished successfully.