Originally created 08/06/02

Money could keep Stallions in town



For every home game, Augusta Stallions owner Frank Lawrence pays between $8,000 and $10,000 for rent, labor and other costs.

Stale pizza is not part of the deal.

Lawrence said a moldy, week-old pizza, found in the referees' locker room before the Stallions' July 27 game, typified the environment at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center this season. It's one of the sticking points for Lawrence as he threatens to stop his team from playing the 2003 season if he doesn't get an improved lease with the arena.

"These are things we don't have any control over," Lawrence said.

Lawrence has less than a month to negotiate the new deal. On Monday, he didn't seem confident the lease would be worked out - a feeling echoed by coliseum authority member Bill Maddox.

At issue is a series of things Lawrence wants the authority to address:

  • Turnstiles. Lawrence said he asked former civic center general manager Reggie Williams to put in turnstiles - which would give an accurate attendance count - at the arena's entrance for the past two seasons.
  • "Reggie said it was just too hard to put those in and it wasn't necessary," Lawrence said.

  • Open concession stands that are "poorly maintained."
  • "More than two or three times down there, it's been pointed out to the staff down there that they don't even have (carbon dioxide) cannisters to provide the draft beer or the Coca-Colas," he said. "How do you sell a Coke if you can't serve one?"

  • A desire for the coliseum authority to help make some financial concessions.
  • Lawrence wouldn't release specific numbers Monday, but did say, "It hasn't been overwhelmingly financially successful. But we've seen it grow each year. Our fan base continues to grow. ... We're not completely unhappy."

    But he's not pleased with the arena's advertising space.

    "We feel we're entitled to receive a share of those revenues," Lawrence said. "We do not get them and have been told that we cannot have them. In three years, we haven't gotten a penny out of (advertising). No, we're not happy about that."

    The Lynx, Augusta's minor-league hockey team, signed a 10-year lease with the coliseum authority in 1998 and paid $50,000 for exclusive advertising rights in the building.

    "That was before football even came on the scene," Maddox said. "We thought that was a pretty good thing.

    Some coliseum authority members disagree with Lawrence on advertising.

    "If you look at the number of spots the Lynx have and you base it on the number of games they have, his eight spots are the number of games he has," authority member Fred Reed said. "It's the same percentage. So I don't think it's unfair."