I feel compelled to respond to the Jan. 22 letter from concerned citizen M. Don Williams regarding the hockey situation at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center.
Mr. Williams' assertion that the Augusta Commission is subsidizing the introduction of hockey to Augusta is totally erroneous. The Civic Center budget is funded by hotel/motel taxes and the beer excise taxes -- not from property taxes or other county funds. The costs associated with constructing the ice floor and the purchase of additional equipment necessary to present hockey will be borne by the Coliseum Authority from funds already available.
The Commission's involvement in our attempt to bring this exciting sport to Augusta has been in the form of encouragement and support, which we appreciate.
Mr. Williams further states that "only a handful" of Southerners have ever seen or thought about hockey. Well, I suggest he might want to ask fellow Southerners in Charleston, Macon, Columbus, Charlotte, Florence, Birmingham and host of other Southern cities what they think. They will tell you that tickets are hard to come by, that their arenas are full on game nights and that having a hockey team has been a wonderful addition to their cities, both in terms of the quality of life and the economic impact.
The most glaring error in Mr. Williams letter is his allegation that the team owners are asking the Commission to provide funds for an additional practice facility. There has never, ever been a request or proposal for this. The owners of the team have been reviewing options for another facility to be built with private funds but, never has any party suggested that the Commission or, for that matter, the authority be involved in any way. ...
The Coliseum Authority and Leisure Management International have worked hard to add a new dimension to the Augusta sports scene. Thus far, if season ticket sales are any indication, the people of Augusta are excited about the prospect of seeing live hockey in our town. All we ask is to be given a chance to make it work. ...
Pat Cumiskey, Augusta
(Editor's note: The writer is general manager of the Civic Center.)