New deal has Lynx owner feeling good

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After 10 months of negotiations, the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority finally came to an agreement Tuesday afternoon with the Augusta Lynx ownership on a two-year lease.

Lynx co-owner and general manager Dan Troutman gave a fitting response to the agreement that will keep ECHL hockey in James Brown Arena for at least two more years.

"If I could do the James Brown thing I'd do it because I feel good right now," he said. "I don't believe I'd do him justice so I'll leave it alone at that, but I'm tickled to death. It's such a relief."

The Coliseum Authority met with Troutman to finalize a deal that has loomed over the Lynx for much of the off-season. Just down Interstate 20, the Columbia Inferno ran into similar problems, and a lease agreement fell through which forced them into a voluntary suspension for the 2008-09 season.

Troutman didn't see the Lynx's negotiations going in that direction.

"I don't think we came as close," he said. "There's always a fear because we're a tenant, and anytime you're a tenant, the landlord can say the lease isn't worth the value. At no time did anybody indicate to us that they didn't feel we would get to common ground."

The Lynx, who have been the main tenant at James Brown Arena for the past decade, will get a share of parking and concessions revenue under the new agreement for the first time in their 10-year history, but not as much as Troutman originally lobbied for. The team will receive revenue from concessions on a graduated scale that starts at 3 percent if the revenue hits $6,500 in one night and climbs to as much as 15 percent for a night of concessions that tops $15,000.

The Lynx will also receive exclusive advertising rights and 20 percent of the parking revenue at their games. The Coliseum Authority also agreed to purchase a used or reconditioned Zamboni to supplement the current 10-year-old vehicle.

"Everything overall went very well," said Keith Brown, chair of the Arena Football/Hockey subcommittee.

"Even as we went down to specific points, things worked out. The Lynx have been an outstanding organization to work with."

The biggest hiccup of Tuesday's negotiations came when a motion was made to take the advertising rights off the table and allow the new management company, Global Spectrum, to offer the rights to the highest bidder. The motion was denied on a 5-4 vote, and a substitute motion passed 6-2 with one abstention to sell the Lynx the exclusive advertising rights for $50,000.

Brown was among those who voted against the first motion and for the one that passed.

"My contention is that part of the reason why we're at the 11th hour on this is because the board had not acted on it earlier," he said.

"They had to ... start selling, and I didn't think it was right to take that away from them."

Troutman said he was pleased with the decision made concerning the advertising rights.

"It would have been a timing nightmare because in another six to eight weeks 99 percent of our corporate sales would have been done. I'm just very thankful it worked out the way it did," he said. "I think what was ultimately approved is probably the best for everybody. We've been in the business of selling the signage for 10 years, and now we're going to be able to continue to do that."

The agreement came one day before the Lynx were required to present a signed lease to the ECHL during league meetings in Denver. Hockey season starts in less than four months.

"Quite frankly, I think everybody's worked very diligently to get a common ground for this," Troutman said.

THE CHRONICLE BROKE THIS STORY ONLINE TUESDAY AT 3:32 P.M.

Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or billy.byler@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (4) Add comment
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sjgraci
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sjgraci 06/18/08 - 10:29 am
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Augusta is a hockey town.

Augusta is a hockey town.

bordercollie75
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bordercollie75 06/22/08 - 08:24 pm
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I hope the Lynx never leave -

I hope the Lynx never leave - it would be a long, long drive to watch hockey somewhere else. Thanks Dan and the Coliseum Authority for working this out.

Johnny Chimpo
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Johnny Chimpo 06/24/08 - 02:25 pm
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Augusta is a hockey town?

Augusta is a hockey town? You do realize that it never gets cold enough to actually make ice outside?

This is GROOVE COUNTRY!! GET CHA' POPCORN READY!!

hockeymann
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hockeymann 06/24/08 - 05:15 pm
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I wish the Groove success,

I wish the Groove success, but I seriously doubt that league has
anywhere the staying power of an ECHL hockey team, and it is
very doubtful the Groove will draw here, as a previous basketball
pro team didn't make it through even one season here.

Hockey is never a sure thing for the owners, as its an expensive
item. We have a very good hard core of hockey fans here. The
job remains for us to keep adding to the number of fans at the
games. Progress was made last year. If it continues, we'll be okay. Thanks to Dan Troutman and GOAL for their work(s).

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