The Walking Dread

Goofy arena idea needs to die a second death Dec. 19

Dracula is famously difficult to kill. Even so, a stake through the heart usually does the trick.

 

Not so, apparently, with the idea of building a new sports and entertainment arena at the unfortunate site of the old Regency Mall.

Even after the Augusta Commission voted the idea down 7-1 last week, supporters are still pushing it. Commissioner Marion Williams put it on the commission’s Administrative Services committee Tuesday.

“I don’t care if I don’t have support – I’m going to keep it in their face,” Williams said before the committee’s 2-2 stalemate – and carrying on as if anger, defiance and obstinacy were sound foundations for making public policy.

The community’s best hope for reason and prudence is for the commission to reject the proposal yet again at its next full meeting Dec. 19.

“It won’t be done till it’s done,” says Commissioner Ben Hasan, whose errant initial “yes” vote on the Regency site Dec. 5 gave it brief and unexpected life before the commission reconsidered and voted 7-1 against it.

“I think it will be put to rest Dec. 19.”

Heaven have mercy, let’s hope so.

The ill-conceived proposal to locate a new James Brown Arena so far away from its current site – the one that the hired expert consultants have recommended – seems to have flowed from some unknown source whose only known wellspring is Mayor Hardie Davis’ office.

Common sense tells you, and experts will confirm, that an arena whose lights go on perhaps 70 times a year is not capable of inspiring the kind of 365-day-a-year restaurant, retail and hotel development on the mall’s Gordon Highway corridor that supporters hope and claim.

In contrast, the arena both feeds off, and feeds, the existing and growing restaurants and shops and hotels at its current location downtown.

The decision of the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority – whose bizarre and hasty 4-2 vote in favor of the mall site in August started this ball of string unraveling – is all the more perplexing knowing how downtown potential is bursting at the seams with expansion of the cyber industry in the area.

Building an arena so far away from this building boom would be a multimillion-dollar blunder.

It’s up to Augusta commissioners to put a stake in its undead heart.

Once and for all.

 

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