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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countyman
19527
Points
countyman 05/14/13 - 03:54 pm
3
5
The JBA really needs to be

The JBA really needs to be demolish, and bring Augusta into the 21st century.

Riverman1
81363
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Riverman1 05/14/13 - 04:06 pm
9
1
How hard would it have been

How hard would it have been to give the team an answer about the ice? I have to assume the dysfunctional government couldn't get it together.

countyman
19527
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countyman 05/14/13 - 05:36 pm
2
6
Global Spectrum is in charge,

Global Spectrum is in charge, and their definitely not dysfunctional.

''Venues Today Magazine once again is honoring young professionals who stand out in the entertainment industry. The annual award honors young leaders under the age of 35 who make a difference in sports, music, conventions, family shows and fairs and festivals. This year, Global Spectrum General Manager Monty Jones Jr is one of twenty-eight young professionals world-wide who is nominated for the award.''

Monty Jones and Global Spectrum are doing more than enough, because the JBA is too old to really compete.

I assume the problem is 'finding' the money to fix the ice problem.

Riverman1
81363
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Riverman1 05/14/13 - 06:57 pm
7
0
I know Global Spectrum is the

I know Global Spectrum is the management company, but the NEW ice system is contingent on the Commission approving the funding. They've been kicking that around. I fought for Global to take over the management after the Commission appointed one loser after another.

bdouglas
4819
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bdouglas 05/14/13 - 07:49 pm
4
0
Seems like a convenient way

Seems like a convenient way for the team to bow out with blame placed on a factor other than them losing money, while the Coliseum Authority can blame it on the cost of the new system. Now the C.A. can say that since there's no hockey team to use it they don't have to spend the money. I seem to recall that Lynx tickets were cheaper than the Riverhawks tickets, it was a more prestigious league, and the promotions and all around experience was much better at a Lynx game. From the photos associated with the story, it looks as if they had a hard time even filling up the Ice Forum. Hate to see 'em go at least temporarily, but they've got a lot of changes to make to succeed in this market or anywhere in the south.

Riverman1
81363
Points
Riverman1 05/14/13 - 08:39 pm
5
0
So no more ice shows in the

So no more ice shows in the JB?

KSL
124790
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KSL 05/14/13 - 08:59 pm
4
1
Can't blame Global Spectrum

Can't blame Global Spectrum if the facilities are sub par. Augusta is in a mess. Where is Augusta going to get the money for anew arena? Perhaps redirecting study money and lawsuit money.

itsanotherday1
41366
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itsanotherday1 05/14/13 - 10:34 pm
4
2
bdouglas, you should be

bdouglas, you should be speaking from an informed perspective, not a speculative one. This team was gaining attendence, not losing it. Hockey is viable in Augusta under the right circumstances (league cost, team marketing , etc). The franchise fees for the ECHL are huge; they play more games, they travel longer distances, etc. The SPHL seems more suited for areas the size of ours. It can work here, and we need it to work here. It is to all of our benefit for this area to have a variety of professional sports teams. Those are the kinds of amenities that separate progressive cities from also-ran backwaters. Corporations looking to expand look for progressive, not a, "make do with as little as possible" mentality.(which too many in this area seem to have)

itsanotherday1
41366
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itsanotherday1 05/14/13 - 10:49 pm
5
0
KSL

"Where are we going to get the money for a new arena?" That is an excellent question with no easy answer. I'm torn when it comes to public financing of facilities that for profit organizations gain from. On the one hand, the public should not not subsidize profits of a private business. On the other, the public profits in the long run from certain private businesses being successful in the community. (see previous opinion).

Truthfully, I am a hockey fan and want to keep it viable in Augusta; but if I were sitting on a committee deciding to spend $1M on ice for the JBA I don't think I could support it. That arena is at the end of its useful life. It has been poorly maintained, is run down, way outdated in design, concession layout poorly done, etc. It backs up to poor neighborhoods and looks the part.

A collaborative effort between ColCo and ARC would be great, but I woud rather ColCo go it alone than have to deal with the likes of some of the brain dead I've seen on the Coliseum Authority. The head guy (Cedric Johnson?) seems to get the value of having community amenties, but some of the rest seem to think it is a business.

itsanotherday1
41366
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itsanotherday1 05/14/13 - 11:04 pm
3
1
Monty Jones

Countyman is right. Monty was recognized for outstanding performance. It ain't his fault.

Bodhisattva
5860
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Bodhisattva 05/15/13 - 04:06 am
2
0
That's what I thought as well

That's what I thought as well Riverman. No Disney on Ice, or any other show in that genre? A quick look at their calendar shows that, other than graduations, all they have lined up for the foreseeable future is Earth, Wind, and Fire (a concert I might actually enjoy, a shocker) and the Augusta Outdoor Expo July 27. That's it. After that, nada for months ahead.

Bodhisattva
5860
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Bodhisattva 05/15/13 - 04:44 am
3
0
The citizens of Augusta voted

The citizens of Augusta voted and agreed to a set amount for the TEE center. The powers that be managed to slide their had picked boy onto the county commission for one vote and one vote only. They got their way at the cost of millions to the citizens of the county. The excess that went into this boondoggle could have been used to build Augusta a first class performing arts center. By performing arts center, I mean a facility that is designed for plays, concerts, etc., where all seats face the stage, not a facility designed for hockey and rodeos. JB Arena would suffice for that. It's showing it's age so having dust, dirt, and fine particles of cow and horse you know what floating in air and coating beams, pilings, and every surface possible could do no further damage to the facility. Nah, it'll never happen in Augusta. Unless there's a way for certain people to siphon away the tax dollars it'll never be built.

nocnoc
40308
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nocnoc 05/15/13 - 07:06 am
5
0
No need to attend a Hockey

No need to attend a Hockey Game to see a fight.

Its cheaper to watch Youtube videos of Downtown and Waffle House brawls.

seenitB4
84100
Points
seenitB4 05/15/13 - 09:23 am
1
2
Amazing isn't it

If Augusta could cut the crime in half they could put up the big spanking new arena they want......I agree Columbia county will be the best choice now......PUT IT UP!

Riverman1
81363
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Riverman1 05/15/13 - 09:40 am
0
0
About a New Arena

Yes, Bod,(and SeenIt) if the TEE hadn't been built, a new arena would be a possibility. Heck, the city is NOW spending SPLOST money that the voters haven't approved. Meanwhile look at the TEE Center schedule. There is nothing for May and the next month it starts off with a wedding. Not exactly what we were led to believe and there's no money left.

It does look like a new arena will have to be an effort with Columbia County and possibly Aiken. If Aiken is involved they will want it on their side of the river off of I-20. It's a possibility, but it's more likely one could be built up I-20 near the Columbia County line. That's a great area. I do believe the location depends on the number of fans an event draws.

bdouglas
4819
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bdouglas 05/15/13 - 09:56 am
1
0
itsanotherday1

Attendance may have been increasing, but increasing from what...? My perspective is actually quite informed. I attended a few games there this past season, and if attenders were dressed as empty blue seats, then I guess that's an accurate assessment. There's nowhere even close to the attendance the Lynx saw in their time here. Half to three quarters of the lower level seats are empty at these games, yet they still have security checking tickets at each stairway down to the lower level to make sure you paid extra to be able to sit down there. I wish for nothing more than them to succeed, but it's going to take much more effort on their part. Better marketing (heck, ANY marketing), better visibility in the community, more exciting promotions, better ticket prices ($10-12 tops plus FREE parking)...and someone a bit more exciting and dynamic between periods than Dale Earnhardt, III on a golf cart or whatever the heck they call that guy. Even Chuck-A-Puck is more expensive with less interesting prizes now than it was with the Lynx. Plenty of room for improvement.

BUT. I hate to be the pessimist, but I have my doubts there will be a comeback anyway. The ice floor was originally brought in for the prospect of lots of well-attended hockey games and a few good ice-related events like Disney On Ice. Now the C.A. has seen that the team can barely break even, if that, for home games, so the only incentive is the couple other ice events the JBA gets per year. And those, my friends, won't pay for a million dollar ice floor replacement.

Pops
7507
Points
Pops 05/15/13 - 10:01 am
1
0
Regency Mall property

would be an excellent location for an entertainment complex......plenty of room for parking......major roadways leading to it.....room for a new baseball stadium as well......

Riverman1
81363
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Riverman1 05/15/13 - 10:14 am
2
0
So no more hockey, no more

So no more hockey, no more ice shows and no basketball. Why not just give it to Mr. Morris for the Futurity, horse shows and other events such as motocross? Just keep the dirt in there and don't worry about it.

seenitB4
84100
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seenitB4 05/15/13 - 10:24 am
1
0
Get off your pocketbooks Col Cty

Put your money where your mouth is....talk is cheap...you can't expect Richmond county to pay for ALL your wants....:)
Just like some say on here...they already pay for the dang roads you travel on everyday....& that is a fact....jack!

Riverman1
81363
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Riverman1 05/15/13 - 10:38 am
0
0
Columbia County voted down an

Columbia County voted down an arena about a decade ago. The cost was about $100 million if I remember correctly. So the only way would be a joint effort with the other county or counties. Up I-20 just in Columbia County seems like a logical location or just across the river off I-20 in Aiken County.

seenitB4
84100
Points
seenitB4 05/15/13 - 10:40 am
1
0
You can do this Col county

http://www.gwinnettcenter.com/

I might be a countygal for Col county....:)

countyman
19527
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countyman 05/15/13 - 11:47 am
1
2
Facts

The James Brown Arena had the sold out Carrie Underwood, Discover Dinosaurs, Monster X, and Cirque Du Soleil in April. They had another Cirque Du Soleil event May 1...

The TEE Center just recently had the Mary Kay Conference, and the center is bringing in thousands of new people downtown. The building continues to attract private investment including the $8 million hotel. When is the last time downtown got a new hotel?

Please name one small to large successful city without an convention center, performing arts center, or viable arena. The city of Augusta needed all three of them, and you can't really say one is more important.

How can you build a first class performing arts center for $38 million? The metro of Columbus GA is much smaller compared to Augusta, and even they raised $100 million for their new performing arts center. The city of Augusta is undergoing a $100 million Arts Campaign right now. The GRU cultural campus idea included space for a new performing arts center, and the non profit Nederlander organization.

countyman
19527
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countyman 05/15/13 - 11:58 am
1
2
Arena must be close to the population

The population of Gwinnett County is larger than the entire CSRA.. Any new arena in Columbia or Aiken county would fail miserably right now. The nearest location in Columbia County is the Grovetown exit, and that's too far out... The same goes for the exit 5 area in North Augusta.

The only possibility is the Carmax area which does have a little portion of the property located in Columbia County.

These counties need to work on getting people to shop, work, dine, etc there before they can attract them for entertainment.

Little Lamb
44869
Points
Little Lamb 05/15/13 - 11:59 am
0
0
Ice

Hmmmm. Paul Simon could put an ice system in the floor of the TEE Center and operate an ice skating rink there. It would at least keep the facility open instead of dark and cold like it is today.

Riverman1
81363
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Riverman1 05/15/13 - 12:44 pm
0
0
LL, you mean the entire

LL, you mean the entire month. Talk about an abysmal occupancy rate. Well, at least we got a wedding next month and the tattoo folks for a day.

countyman
19527
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countyman 05/15/13 - 01:08 pm
1
3
TEE Center

Lol, the exhibition hall in Grovetown has the 'possibility' of attracting one local event that was already here.

I don't understand the negativity towards the TEE center when the building has multiple events(several national) schedule. The TEE center is doing good when you compare the number of events to other peer cities.

bdouglas
4819
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bdouglas 05/15/13 - 02:28 pm
0
0
Comparing "the number of events to other peer cities"...

TD Convention Center in Greenville, Columbia Metro Convention Center and Athens' Classic Center all have much more crowded calendars of events than the TEE Center. And I'm talking Expos, Festivals and other much larger events. The largest events coming up at the TEE are the Ironman and maybe that tattoo expo or the GA Sheriff's Association. The Classic Center in Athens is proudly sporting that North GA United Methodists convention that left Augusta for greener pastures, too. I want the place to succeed as much as anybody, but let's not kid ourselves about how well it's doing.

http://www.tdconventioncenter.com/upcoming-events
http://www.columbiaconventioncenter.com/exhibitors/calendar-of-events/
https://classiccenter.com/general/calendar/calendar/month/5/year/2013/

Riverman1
81363
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Riverman1 05/15/13 - 02:46 pm
0
0
Keep in mind the TEE had

Keep in mind the TEE had nothing to do with attracting the Ironman.

itsanotherday1
41366
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itsanotherday1 05/15/13 - 03:08 pm
0
0
bdouglas- I agree 100% with

bdouglas- I agree 100% with your comments about what should be done to improve attendance; it is a sentiment shared by most of the long time fans in Augusta.

However, the facts don't support your assertion of this giving the owner an easy out. Regardless of what the attendance WAS (it was still as good as the Lynx when they folded), it had improved year over year over year; and Bob had committed to a 4th season, provided no snags in the agreement with the JBA. Even now, he is suspending instead of quitting just in case something shakes out for the following year.

ETA: Your comment about attendance at the Ice Forum were not relevant either. It was very cold in there and the seats almost unbearable. I attended most of those games, but stood up the entire time. It was a very uncomfortable venue that many STH's decided to take a pass on, particularly since the season was pretty much in the toilet by then anyway.

countyman
19527
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countyman 05/15/13 - 03:23 pm
1
0
The TEE Center in Augusta has

The TEE Center in Augusta has 20 confirmed events for 2013. Those cities don't have much larger events, and more crowded schedules. The building in Augusta held the Mary Kay Conference(over 2k), HFW, Bridal expo, ESi WebEOC Conference, East Center Georgia Changes, etc already this year...

When did Athens become a peer city of Augusta? The GDP, population, retail, etc is not on 'par' with each other.

Many of the events in Athens are related to the local symphony, college fairs, local maternity/baby fair, etc.

Look at the number of Clemson university related events happening at the Convention Center in Columbia.

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