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.