Georgia Regents University President Ricardo Azziz famously challenged the city a couple years ago to be more cool – to create more cultural and entertainment offerings in order to be more attractive to high-powered
medical researchers and such.
We couldn’t agree more.
Instead, we’ve taken a step backward – with the news this week that a broken ice system at James Brown Arena has forced the cancellation of the upcoming RiverHawks’ minor league hockey season.
This, on top of the fact that the team’s last eight home games had to be moved to the recreational Augusta Ice Sports Center when the ice began melting in James Brown Arena in February.
We trust that officials at the arena did their level best – but the fact is, the local hockey team has been forced out, to be put on ice for a year, due to our arena’s inability to host it.
If we care – and we should – then we need to come to grips with the possibility that the team may look elsewhere for a home. It may have to, if the arena here can’t be relied upon.
It makes you wonder if Augusta needs a new sports arena. The current one, dating back to 1980, is badly dated and far from state-of-the-art.
The same could be said for its nearby sibling – Bell Auditorium.
Much has changed in the past few decades in technology and design, in both sports arenas and performing arts centers. Augusta should seriously consider a leap into the 21st century in these areas of vital cultural facilities.
Nothing against either of our current facilities, which are doing quite well for the most part and are managed as well as could be hoped for. But the ice cooling system’s catastrophic failure might be a sign that the time has come to make new plans.
The community flirted with building new sports and performing arts complexes a few years back, and it’s a shame we couldn’t get them done. The price certainly hasn’t come down – nor has the need gone away, even as we struggle to recover from the worst economy in most of our lifetimes. People will always feel the need to congregate. They’ll forever want to see talented performers. They’ll ever look to enrich their lives with song and dance and theater and stage shows and ice shows and all manner of athletic endeavors.
The question isn’t whether we need facilities for such things. The only question is how good will they be – and what it says about us if they’re not good enough.