Originally created 02/26/03

Board reopens manager search

The Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority voted Tuesday to reopen the search for a manager, rejecting its top pick after contract negotiations.

Authority members agreed to end talks with John T. Mazzola, a former general manager of the Florence, S.C., civic center because they didn't want to give him what he wanted.

"They decided that what he was asking for in the contract was too much - the moving expense, the salary, the two-week paid vacation," board member Joe Scott said. "They just thought we couldn't meet that at this time."

Mr. Mazzola wanted a $70,000 annual salary and $10,000 in moving expenses, member Millard Cox said.

"It was ridiculous," Mr. Cox said. "People negotiated with him on it, and he couldn't come to a reasonable figure. And then some of the board members were concerned about him moving so much. He moved four times in five years. Five different facilities."

Mr. Scott said: "Plus, he couldn't offer us any assurance that he could cut the deficit that we wanted somebody to do here."

Mr. Mazzola previously said he has been "corporately" displaced or "politically patronized" out of venue manager jobs.

One stumbling block was the one-year contract the board offered.

"He didn't want to move here because he was just going to be a one-year man," Mr. Cox said. "I guess he was going to live in Florence. He was going to stay there. At the end of the year, if he was still here, he wanted to get $10,000 for moving expenses. So none of the board members - we all agreed it wasn't a good deal."

Mr. Mazzola, 46, said it would not be possible for him to sell his house, move his family, buy a house in Augusta and live in the city full time for what he was offered for a year.

"If there was a longer contract in place, I would gladly become a part of the community," he said. "That's not to say I wasn't going to live here. I wasn't about to commute."

The board also wanted to be able to give Mr. Mazzola a 60-day termination notice, he said.

Mr. Mazzola, who was at Tuesday's meeting, said he was disappointed that he didn't have the opportunity to contribute to stabilizing the operations of the civic center complex.

The board also voted to raise acting Manager Linda Roberts' $55,000 a year salary to $60,000, retroactively to May, when Manager Reggie Williams was fired.

Board member Bonnie Ruben abstained from the vote and left the meeting immediately afterward without comment.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylviaco@augustachronicle.com.


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