Originally created 09/24/98

Committee approves sky boxes



A special committee of Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority met behind closed doors for 35 minutes Wednesday and agreed to endorse plans for luxury sky boxes in the municipal civic center.

"We are in agreement," said authority Chairman Bill Maddox after reopening the session to the public. "It would be a good thing to have the boxes built."

The boxes, each of which will have 14 seats, climate controls separate from the arena, a wet bar, toilet and kitchen facilities, and furniture, will be paid for by the Augusta Lynx minor-league hockey team, which begins play in the civic center Oct. 15.

But authority members want a piece of the rental revenues for hockey games. Under the proposal submitted by the Lynx, the hockey club would keep all leasing fees for hockey games, said authority member Roy Stampley. The amount the boxes will be leased for has not been revealed.

The committee authorized Mr. Maddox and authority attorney Sam Nicholson to negotiate a revenue split with Lynx General Manager Paul Gamsby.

"We're going to make a counter proposal. But we know they won't go 50-50," said Mr. Maddox.

Asked when the parties would meet, Mr. Nicholson responded "as soon as possible."

The plans call for at least one luxury box and a maximum of four, to be built on existing platforms in the corners of the arena. If given the go-ahead, Mr. Gamsby said last week, the first suite would be available for the team's second home stand in midNovember but not the home opener. Additional boxes would be installed upon demand.

Meanwhile, the hockey club also has to determine whether construction is feasible economically. Mr. Nicholson said the boxes would cost about $35,000 apiece to build. The Dorton Arena in Raleigh, N.C., the hockey club's previous home, did not have luxury suites, said Mr. Gamsby.