Originally created 05/24/00

Authority considers name change



Augusta has a Doug Barnard Parkway, a Jessye Norman Amphitheater and a William B. Bell Auditorium, so how about a James Brown Arena?

"It's got sort of a ring to it, doesn't it?" said Augusta Mayor Bob Young.

On Tuesday, the Augusta Richmond County Coliseum Authority voted unanimously to form a committee to study whether or not the civic center should be renamed after the Godfather of Soul.

It was board member Austin Rhodes who asked the authority to at least think about honoring one of Augusta's living legends.

And it made at least a few people wonder if a Laurence Fishburne Performing Arts Center isn't too far behind.

Mr. Rhodes said the recent death of another Augusta icon, Dr. Ike Washington, made him think of honoring special people before they pass away.

"Dr. Ike's unexpected death prompted many tributes..." Mr. Rhodes told the coliseum authority board members. "In the midst of the farewells, many of us noted what a tragedy it was that our friend never lived to hear the testimony of his neighbors on his worth to the collective family to which we all belong."

Mr. Rhodes said he wanted to make sure the city doesn't make the same mistake with another native Augustan.

"(James Brown) is the only man alive, I know, to have captivated and personally inspired talents like Elvis Presley, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson and Prince," Mr. Rhodes said.

"According to Billboard Magazine, the authority on popular music in America, he is by far the number one artist in the history of the R&B/Urban music industry," Mr. Rhodes said.

The move to recognize Mr. Brown and his connections to Augusta comes as another Georgia city, Macon, has begun using Little Richard as its community spokesman, promoting that area's tourism and business environment.

"Well, we've got an even more famous celebrity right here," said Jim West, president of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce. "I'd like to see us use his name and notoriety to market this community."

Mr. Brown could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but Mr. Rhodes said he talked with the musician's representatives about displaying some of Mr. Brown's memorabilia at the civic center and the singer purportedly is all for it.