Augusta RiverHawks ponder options during season off

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The puck drops on the Southern Professional Hockey League season in four arenas Friday, but James Brown Arena will remain empty and without ice.

Ice issues forced the Augusta RiverHawks to complete the 2012-13 season away from James Brown Arena. The SPHL franchise won't play this season and is considering a move.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
Ice issues forced the Augusta RiverHawks to complete the 2012-13 season away from James Brown Arena. The SPHL franchise won't play this season and is considering a move.

The May 14 announcement that the Augusta RiverHawks would not play this season means fans are left without hockey in the area.

The RiverHawks are still waiting for possible compensation of lost revenue from the eight games moved last season after the arena’s ice melted. The team was forced to play its final eight home games at Augusta Ice Sports Center, limiting attendance to season-ticket holders and sponsors.

After waiting for months, RiverHawks owner Bob Kerzner said he and Global Spectrum, which manages the arena, are moving to a legal process to find a resolution for compensation.

“We’re taking steps right now with our attorney,” Kerzner said. “I wish we hadn’t gotten to this. I was hoping they’d do the right thing and they chose not to. They never contacted us.”

Kerzner said the city didn’t stay in contact with him regarding the situation.

“They kept us in the dark through the whole thing,” he said. “Nothing about fixing the ice, nothing about reimbursing us for the last eight games.”

Ed Enoch, the attorney who represents the coliseum authority, said a request was submitted and forwarded to Global Spectrum to see if the insurance claim for the broken ice system covered the lost revenue for the RiverHawks. Enoch said he wasn’t aware of the communication between the team and Global Spectrum beyond that.

Arena general manager Monty Jones Jr. said he could not discuss the matter because it is now in a legal process. Attempts to contact Global Spectrum’s Business Development Headquarters in Connecticut were referred back to Jones.

Kerzner said he has looked into moving his remaining equipment out of the arena. In the meantime, he has had talks with other locations on possibly moving the team, including Columbia County and Savannah, noting that he would like to remain in the area.

“We’d be more than happy to go (to Columbia County),” he said. “Our track record shows we’d be excellent tenants for them.”

Ron Cross, the chairman of the Columbia County Commission, said an arena in the county isn’t feasible right now.

“I don’t think the county is big enough,” he said. “It hasn’t been brought up recently, and I don’t think it’s something we can tackle right now.”

While Kerzner seeks a potential home for the RiverHawks – he retained the franchise despite not playing this season – he continues to wait for a result to a possible compensation process that has stretched to five months since the team’s announcement of not playing. He said there is no timetable.

For fans, they are left without an area team to support for the second time in recent years after the Lynx also left Augusta in 2009. Fans of the RiverHawks remain in limbo as the team attempts to find a home.

Sophia Sgalato, an eighth-grader at Grovetown Middle School, wrote a class essay arguing for the RiverHawks to return. As a season-ticket holder, Sgalato said she wanted to use the opportunity to express her feelings on the team.

“I got to meet a lot of the players,” she said. “It was something fun to do to go to games. The players and fans had a connection to the community.”

Sgalato summed up her thoughts with a sentence in the essay that echoes the feelings of many hockey fans in Augusta.

“I believe Augusta should bring back the RiverHawks because it’s affordable, they support the community, and it’s a great source of live entertainment.”

THE BACK STORY

AUGUSTA RIVERHAWKS

BACKGROUND: On May 14, Augusta RiverHawks announced they were taking a leave from league play for one season, according to a release from team owner Bob Kerzner.

DEVELOPMENTS:

• In February, the RiverHawks were forced to reschedule home games “due to problems with the ice.” RiverHawks vice president Ken Vezina said the ice in the arena began melting because of a leak in piping that keeps the ice cold.

• In March, the team announced they play their final home games of the season at the Augusta Ice Sports Center because of ongoing with the ice at James Brown Arena. 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.

• In June, Monty Jones Jr., general manager of Global Spectrum, which manages James Brown Arena, said the authority is close to receiving the insurance check necessary to refund the RiverHawks.

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nocnoc
45085
Points
nocnoc 10/21/13 - 07:33 am
5
1
Simple Solution

Move the team to Columbia Co.

The demographics of Columbia Co. $$$$ and safe after dark parking and settings would likely better support this type of sports franchise.

Little Lamb
47005
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Little Lamb 10/21/13 - 08:02 am
6
0
Follow the blame-shifting

Interesting bit of buffoonery:

Ed Enoch, the attorney who represents the coliseum authority, said a request was submitted and forwarded to Global Spectrum to see if the insurance claim for the broken ice system covered the lost revenue for the RiverHawks. Enoch said he wasn’t aware of the communication between the team and Global Spectrum beyond that. Arena general manager Monty Jones Jr. said he could not discuss the matter because it is now in a legal process. Attempts to contact Global Spectrum’s Business Development Headquarters in Connecticut were referred back to Jones.

Let's get this straight. The city government owns the arena. The city government created a coliseum authority to operate and maintain it. The coliseum authority contracted an entertainment management company to book acts and to hire a food services company and to take care of day to day operations.

Of course, the coliseum authority in its contract is required to reimburse the entertainment management company for expenses (light bill, painting, repairs, etc.). This, naturally would include the facility's insurance policy. Don't you find it strange that the coliseum has been reimbursing the entertainment management company for its insurance premiums for years on end and has never read the policy? They are paying the premium and they don't have a clue what is covered?

Maybe the city government should replace Ed Enoch with Keg Nugent.

bdouglas
5398
Points
bdouglas 10/21/13 - 08:53 am
3
0
Maybe Ron Cross and Columbia

Maybe Ron Cross and Columbia County could approach Bass Pro Shops and ask them for money to build an arena and see how they feel about it when the roles are reversed...?

GnipGnop
12467
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GnipGnop 10/21/13 - 08:57 am
2
0
Why shoud anyone be surprised?

Bob is an outsider. If he was one of the good ole boys he would have been well compensated. I will miss the Hawks. I hope he gets reimbursed. Funny how the city pays off incompetent employees but doesn't pay a JBA tenant when they obviously are owed money.

Little Lamb
47005
Points
Little Lamb 10/21/13 - 09:12 am
0
0
Lease

Instead of looking at the insurance policy, how about just reading the lease agreement. If there is a clause in there that Global Spectrum is liable for "lost revenue" (something that occurs in the future and is uncertain, at best), then Global Spectrum owes them for lost revenue. If there is nothing in the lease about lost revenue, then Global Spectrum does not owe them. It should be as simple as that.

itsanotherday1
45482
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itsanotherday1 10/21/13 - 09:22 am
0
0
Spelled out in the lease or

Spelled out in the lease or not, I think lease-or is duty bound to maintain the facility to ordinary standards for operation. If this was a house, you would be within your rights to walk out on the lease if the AC was broken and they didn't fix it.
Not quite the same situation, but the principle applies.

Little Lamb
47005
Points
Little Lamb 10/21/13 - 10:10 am
0
0
Back Story

Look at the Back Story sidebar up above. It says that Global Spectrum was expecting their insurance claim check in June! Here it is mid-October and we're still talking insurance. Something tells me that insurance check is not coming.

This story appears in the sports section. Thus, it is naturally focused on the hockey team. The team owner at this very moment is focused on his "lost revenue" angle. More important than that is, “What about fixing the ice?” Global Spectrum said back in July that they would fix the ice when the insurance check came in. What is the latest development on that angle?

lsmith
105
Points
lsmith 10/21/13 - 02:30 pm
0
0
Hockey in Augusta is a doomed
Unpublished

Hockey in Augusta is a doomed endeavor. Every attempt at running a hockey team has resulted in failure. Face it, this is not a hockey town.

GnipGnop
12467
Points
GnipGnop 10/21/13 - 03:11 pm
2
0
They want the Hawks gone

and the ice fixed...they can't pay for both. If they fired the DDA and Coliseum authority they could do a lot more...this is the most micro managed government I have ever seen...

soapy_725
43772
Points
soapy_725 10/21/13 - 05:59 pm
0
0
ARC is the "hockey capital" of the south east. Hockey everywhere
Unpublished

Bull Hockey. More Bull Hockey. Bull Hockey piled shoulder deep.

soapy_725
43772
Points
soapy_725 10/21/13 - 06:03 pm
0
0
If ever there was organized crime in Augusta, it pales in
Unpublished

compassion to the daily forcible rape of every law abiding, taxpaying citizen by the government system of ARC. The ARC Consolidation must have been a meeting of the "five families" in Appalachia.

soapy_725
43772
Points
soapy_725 10/21/13 - 06:05 pm
0
0
Organized Crime Runs Rampant in the Garbage City. Wait?
Unpublished

Aren't garbage and construction the two top enterprises for organized crime? Yes they are. Augusta says come on down. We are ripe for the picking.

soapy_725
43772
Points
soapy_725 10/21/13 - 06:05 pm
0
0
What has three balls and molest the poor? The GA Lottery.
Unpublished

What has three balls and molest the poor? The GA Lottery.

itsanotherday1
45482
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itsanotherday1 10/21/13 - 11:35 pm
1
0
GnipGnop, if you ever went to

GnipGnop, if you ever went to a C.A. meeting, you would be very underwhelmed with the members as a whole. These are political appointments of people without regard to their background or ability to think their way out of a bathroom.

The C.A. should be abolished and an advisory board of 3-5 people installed that is made up of leaders with a vested interest in seeing Augusta prosper. Head person of the C of C; Head person of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, etc.

matt0629
2
Points
matt0629 11/06/13 - 10:16 am
0
0
The SPHL and Riverhawks bring fans from out of town to the area

My family and I attended several Riverhawks games(2-3) a year because it is(was) the only hockey in over a 200 mile radius from Statesboro, GA-where we live. When we came to town we ate downtown and sometimes stayed in a hotel which was contributing to the local economy. Always had a good time. I can't imagine the local business leaders don't see The Riverhawks as a good thing and can't find a solution to get hockey back in Augusta! We will return when they do!

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