Augusta RiverHawks won't play next season

Tuesday, May 14, 2013 3:51 PM
Last updated Wednesday, May 15, 2013 11:06 AM
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The Augusta RiverHawks announced Tuesday they will not be playing next season, the final straw in a situation that kept the minor league hockey team’s future on ice for months.

The RiverHawks are taking a leave from league play for one season, according to a release from team owner Bob Kerzner. He said he hopes something will be done to bring hockey back to Augusta the following year, and he plans to retain his franchise.

The RiverHawks have not received positive information on the status of replacing the ice system in James Brown Arena, which broke with eight home games left in the season and caused the ice to melt. The team was forced to play at Augusta Ice Sports Center, limiting attendance to season-ticket holders and sponsors.

Kerzner said he was told insurance would not cover the cost of the system, meaning another process will be needed to determine whether it will be fixed.

A May 12 deadline was given by the team to arena management in late March or early April, according to the release.

Kerzner said Tuesday his team couldn’t wait on arena management or the city to make a decision on replacing the broken ice system. The RiverHawks had a deadline of Tuesday to let the Southern Professional Hockey League know whether they would return this coming season.

“We’re going to entertain coming back there,” Kerzner said. “The situation is what it is. It will cost an extremely large amount of money, and we were hoping insurance would cover it, but now they have to start another process to attain money. It puts us way past our deadline.”

The announcement also said the RiverHawks have not received monetary compensation for the loss of the eight games that were to be played at James Brown Arena.

“They haven’t come forward,” Kerzner said. “I gave them numbers for compensation in April. I used average walk-up (tickets sold), average presell, those things. It didn’t seem to be a big issue at all. They understood where the numbers came from. So I’m still waiting on that. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Messages left for Monty Jones Jr., the general manager of Global Spectrum, which manages the James Brown Arena, and Cedric Johnson, the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority chairman, were not returned.

It will be up to the league to determine what happens to RiverHawks players. The likely scenarios are either granting them free agency or holding a draft within the league.

Refunds for season-ticket deposits will be issued before the end of May, according to the release. All season-ticket deposits will be given back before May 31, wherever possible. More information on ticket refunds will be provided at the RiverHawks’ Web site after May 20.

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itsanotherday1 05/15/13 - 03:03 pm
New Arena

I've always thought Riverwatch at I-20 would be the perfect location for a new entertainment complex.

1. No ratty neighborhoods nearby to cause people safety concerns.
2. Easy access for South Carolina patrons. Same for Columbia County, West Augusta, and South Augusta (Bobby Jones/I-20).
3. Nearby dining on Washington Road and just a hop down Riverwatch
4. Nearby hotels when patrons/performers/vendors/etc. need to spend the night.

Alas, it is just wishful thinking.

countyman 05/15/13 - 03:45 pm

I love how the North GA United Methodists convention is this 'huge' deal, but the ESI Ironman($4 million impact) is not a big deal.

The people who dislike Augusta may think Athens is greener pastures, but the facts don't back it up. The median income and per capita income of Richmond County is higher compared to Athens. The poverty rate in Clarke County is over 10% higher compared to Richmond. The only winning category for Athens is 84% vs 82% in high school graduates, and their much further ahead in bachelor degrees(UGA is located in Athens).

Downtown Athens is nice, but it's only part of Clarke County. The CBD of Augusta is nice too, but it's not as vibrant compared to Athens. West Augusta, Summerville, Forest Hills, Southwest Augusta, Country Club Hills, etc are located in Richmond County though. I don't even have to bring up the middle class areas of South Augusta, city limits of Hephzibah, and the neighborhood Olde Town in the urban core.

I forgot to mention earlier in response to both Riverman and Little Lamb. The GA Society of Association Executives will be here in Augusta May 29-31....

The people who love to bash Augusta need to have all the facts beforehand.

Riverman1 05/15/13 - 03:26 pm
The Ironman was coming before

The Ironman was coming before the TEE was built. But you are kind of hitting on the truth when you mention how other cities' convention centers in GA-SC also have poor occupancy rates. That's exactly what Dr. Heywood Sanders tried to tell the Augusta Commission. He also clearly explained the TEE would take business from other venues in the city with events that have been here before.

Riverman1 05/15/13 - 03:28 pm
IAD, it seems to me that

IAD, it seems to me that cement company at Riverwatch and Clausen Rd sits on a nice site.

countyman 05/15/13 - 03:46 pm
Moving Augusta into the 21st century

The Ironman event was coming here before the TEE, but the not the convention.

The job of the TEE Center is to bring in new money, people, and businesses into Augusta.

I feel way the same way in terms of public transportation expanding in Augusta. The overall system may not increase revenue, but the new companies/population/reatilers etc will.

bdouglas 05/15/13 - 05:13 pm
You're rambling on and in

You're rambling on and in about Athens when I was only talking about THE CLASSIC CENTER. The Methodists left because of poor facilities and poor treatment. The fact that Athens is considered a lesser peer by you only makes your point worse when they've got more on the books than Augusta does at their venue. Spent a lot of time on Athens, but completely glossed over the Greenville and (massive) Columbia calendars. Like RM said, Ironman was here before the TEE was ever in the picture. The only reason the expo is here is BECAUSE Ironman is here, not the TEE. The TEE is simply a weather-safe place near their starting point where vendors can set up. Dr. Sanders was absolutely right so far...

hockeymann 05/15/13 - 08:36 pm
Riverman, you are totally

Riverman, you are totally WRONG saying Columbia Cty. voted any arena down ten yrs. ago. The only vote in Columbia Cty. was a "straw" vote in a
Republican primary(Republicans are dominant in Columbia Cty.). The vote
WON then by about 60%. For reasons unknown after that, Ron Cross and
the commission elected to pass on pushing what should be a no-brainer in Columbia Cty. A new arena at the Grovetown exit would bring hotels,
restaurants, and huge tax base gains to the county. It should never be
built in Richmond Cty. Global Spectrum allowed their inept staff and the
huge trucks during horse shows and Home shows to damage the ice system repeatedly. It finally died. They also ruined the huge overhead
scoreboard the original Lynx GAVE them. It's a shame, but the new arena needs to be anywhere but Richmond Cty. I was against baseball going to N. Augusta, but now I'm for it.
Lets move the whole thing over there, arena and baseball too. Deke can
make a few dollars operating a ferry over to hockey & baseball games,
while he watches all the tax money going over there too, if it doesn't go
to Columbia Cty.

grangerman 05/20/13 - 06:55 am
Hockey resuming in Augusta

We in Columbus GA were excited a couple of years ago when you all announced that a new team in Augusta would join the SPHL. Your first year was tremendous -- the RiverHawks were easily the best team in the league, although they stumbled in the playoffs. Something happened during the off-season such that the 2012/13 team was the opposite of the previous year's team: let's face it, they were awful. We really want you all to remain in the league, and certainly understand the problem with the ice arena, but should you get a solution to the arena problem, please also fix whatever problem you have behind the bench.

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