Originally created 11/26/03

Panel denies Lynx use of marketing fund



The Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority rejected a request from the Augusta Lynx hockey team Tuesday to use a marketing fund to promote "Kids' Day" before Sunday hockey games.

Lynx General Manager Paul Gamsby had asked members to contribute $15,000 of a $40,000 marketing fund the authority shares with concessionaire Aramark Corp. to hire talent and buy promotional items.

The Coca-Cola Co. has committed to bring its Fun Zone to selected games throughout the season so children could attend free, according to Mr. Gamsby.

Aramark, whose contract expires Dec. 21, has agreed to commit $15,000, but the authority voted down member Joe Scott's motion to contribute $10,000.

"They're our only tenant," Mr. Scott said. "We have $40,000 in the marketing account. Why should we go against helping them when they're trying to get people in the seats?"

Authority Chairman Billy Holden argued against the contribution. He said the authority didn't have the money to help other promoters.

Member Annie Rogers said she opposed the request because when she attended the first hockey game there were printed fliers at the arena referring to authority members as "clowns."

"That was an insult to me," she said.

Mr. Gamsby attempted to address Mrs. Rogers' complaint, but Mr. Holden refused to recognize him.

Member Wayne Frazier said the Lynx was a business trying to stay out of the "red ink" at the authority's expense.

Mr. Scott said that if Aramark is giving the Lynx $15,000 of a $40,000 marketing fund the authority hasn't used, the authority also should contribute because it would ultimately benefit.

"They're trying to do something to bring the attendance in here, and I think we should help them too," he said. "What is Aramark getting out of it? They're leaving."

After the vote, when Mr. Scott convinced Mr. Holden to let Mr. Gamsby speak, Mr. Gamsby said the Lynx would go ahead with its marketing program and plans to bring people from Fort Gordon to games.

Mr. Gamsby also said he regretted the board's rejection of his proposal for Thirsty Thursdays, during which people could buy beer for $1.

Manager Larry Rogers said Aramark officials had told him they could not afford to pay the authority a commission on $1 beer sales.

"It's a win for the hockey team," Mr. Rogers said. "The radio station that puts the van out front, they get all the advertising. We get nothing."

When Aramark General Manager Jill Pokrzywinski interjected that people will buy hot dogs with the beer, Mr. Holden refused to recognize her, too. When she laughed, he told her that if she thought it was funny, she could leave.

"Mr. Holden, I don't believe you have that authority," she responded.

Mr. Scott said he hadn't even heard about Thirsty Thursdays. Mr. Rogers denied telling Mr. Gamsby that the board voted the promotion down, but Mr. Gamsby insisted he did.

Mr. Gamsby also complained that Mr. Rogers had decided to start charging the Lynx for spotlights for the first time after five years and six games into the season.

Mr. Rogers said he was just trying to adhere to the contract and improve the civic center complex's bottom line.

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