Originally created 05/28/03

Company meets civic center officials



Top officials of a company that expects to start managing the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center complex in July appeared before its governing board Tuesday.

Global Spectrum President Michel F. Sauers and Senior Vice President Frank Russo Jr. spoke to coliseum authority members and introduced an interim manager, Sally Roach, who ran Oakland Stadium in Alameda, Calif.

The authority voted 5-4 in March to hire Global Spectrum for $102,000 a year, plus a manager's salary of $75,000 a year. Last month, its members voted to ask the company to return to Augusta to meet with the entire board before approving a contract.

On Tuesday, authority members Ellis Albright and Billy Holden sought guarantees that Global Spectrum will book more shows and increase revenues at the facility, which had lost $407,167 by the end of April, according to unaudited financial records.

Mr. Sauers assured the board that the representations the company has made to book more shows and bring more people into the facility are accurate.

"We know how to sell tickets," he said. "We can't guarantee events, but we have great relationships with promoters and can increase the shows. We will promote the shows."

Mr. Albright said that if the company can't make any guarantees, the board was just spinning its wheels.

"What I can tell you is what you're doing now is ineffective," Mr. Russo responded.

Mr. Holden asked for guarantees that insurance and payroll expenses won't increase under Global Spectrum's management.

"They will not go up without your approval," Mr. Russo said.

Mr. Holden said he couldn't help being cynical because he has heard a lot of promises that didn't materialize during his years on the board.

Mr. Sauers said Global Spectrum has the same motivation as the board to increase revenue. He said the only guarantees he could give are his word on which his reputation and business hinge.

Contract negotiations are almost complete, and the board is expected to call a special meeting soon to vote on it, Mr. Russo said.

The board also sought a guaranteed price from Bank of America Senior Vice President Jeff P. Spears concerning the final cost of refinancing the authority's $5.77 million 1993 series bond debt. The bank's proposal projects saving the authority $522,493 during the next seven years, based on current estimates.

Mr. Spears said he could not guarantee the final cost of refinancing because he could not say what outside bond counsel's fees would be, although he had used the best estimates in the proposal.

The board voted to refinance the bonds.

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