Losing our cool

More reliable facilities needed to keep Augusta's hockey team

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Augusta just got a little less cool.

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.

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Riverman1 05/18/13 - 06:12 am
Heat it Up

We’ve often discussed having an arena being a combined two or three county effort. Possibly building up I-20 at the Wheeler Rd exit or Grovetown exit. If Aiken is in the mix, possibly on their side of I-20.

I’d like to bounce pass one more consideration. The symbol formerly known as ASU is considering moving up in basketball to D-1 and a large arena will only help that effort. We talk of how nice it is to have a hockey team or minor league baseball, but overlook what we could have with basketball. Big time basketball, bringing in some of the best teams in the nation is a possibility if we had a large enough arena and crowds. Drawing people to the JB Arena has always been a problem, but D-1 basketball in a new facility off I-20 could bring in 10,000 people for big games several times a year. Supporting GRU at Augusta D-1 efforts is also keeping the money locally. It’s not lining the pockets of carnival like minor league sports teams who would leave you with an empty facility if the dollar called from elsewhere.

Also, realize the effect bigtime sports teams have on student enrollment at universities. In another article we see where enrollment is down here. A D-1 team, in a large new arena, would certainly improve the number and quality of applicants at the Summerville and Frog Hollow campuses.

Bodhisattva 05/18/13 - 06:55 am
And maybe improve the sports

And maybe improve the sports beyond golf and Frisbee.

seenitB4 05/18/13 - 08:53 am
Yep...you neeed a big arena

BUT stop slapping everything downtown....listen to the voices on here....put it on I-20 in a decent--well lit --convenient-large parking area-GROW OUT & stop dragging your feet.

Bodhisattva 05/18/13 - 09:32 am
I can understand having the

I can understand having the school athletic facilities near the campus. The first college I attended had some on campus and some miles away at the main athletic complex. This wouldn't have mattered a hill of beans but we were were required to take six phys ed courses to earn a degree, obviously to justify having so many coaches on the college's payroll. When you have a history professor who begins lecturing the second class starts and continues nonstop until the bell sounds if not a minute or two after, then have to walk to your car, drive to the athletic complex, find a place to park, walk inside and get dressed out ( it was a fencing class), and you have a jackass of a coach who has the audacity to write college students up for being tardy (never did I have another professor who even took roll) it gets sort of aggravating. Evidently there's a good reason foils have a blunt tip. Sorry for the long story, trust me, I could make it a lot longer over the "beloved" coach. Anyway, if it's for events, cool. Classes need tobe held on campus.

triscuit 05/18/13 - 10:35 am
Why sure. Lets start with

Why sure. Lets start with hiring a consultant, then some out-of-town architects, engineers, and contractors. Then ask the citizens of Augusta to pay for it.

Gage Creed
Gage Creed 05/18/13 - 04:08 pm
Deja Vu circa 1975... Will

Deja Vu circa 1975... Will the next Ira Davis step up?

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