Promoter proposes contract to panel

Atlanta promoter Jerry Dickerson is proposing a consulting contract with the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority that would make him a millionaire if the city builds a new sports and entertainment arena.

He e-mailed copies to authority members the night before Tuesday's meeting. Member Janice Jenkins, irked that she hadn't had time to go over it, got the contract taken off the agenda.

"This is something the board cannot be forced into doing, or manipulated into," Ms. Jenkins said.

Under the contract terms, Mr. Dickerson would be paid $150,000 between the signing of the deal and June 1. He'd be paid another $350,000 "upon a successful vote by the public/citizens of Augusta-Richmond County," apparently referring to a vote to build a new facility using special-purpose penny sales tax funds.

Then he'd earn a "project facilitator/consultant fee" -- 2 percent of the cost of renovations or buildings, to be paid quarterly. An 18,000- to 20,000-seat facility such as he's proposing is estimated to cost $125 million to $250 million.

That would mean that, on the low end of the estimates, Mr. Dickerson would make $2.5 million. On the high end, $5 million.

Mr. Dickerson said he wasn't trying to ramrod the contract past the authority Tuesday. The death of his attorney's father caused the delay in getting it to authority members, he said.

"You put it out there to provoke dialogue," he said. "Everything is negotiable."

Authority Chairman Richard Isdell, who along with Vice Chairman William Fennoy was charged with negotiating the contract, called the pay terms "ludicrous." He said before going into business with Mr. Dickerson, the authority needs to find out more about a lawsuit he filed against the operators of Atlanta's Chastain Park.

According to a Georgia Court of Appeals decision, in the 1990s Chastain Ventures made 35 percent of the park's event dates available to Jerry Dickerson Presents Inc., to comply with Atlanta's minority business requirements. Mr. Dickerson never put up money for any concerts or signed contracts with any artists, the document says, but under the agreement, to use his dates the company had to lease them back, paying him $70,000 per year from at least 1998 to 2000.

Mr. Dickerson disputed that version of events, saying he "absolutely" booked dates at Chastain Park. He said his dealings with Chastain Ventures were soured by the controversies surrounding former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell.

When the company's co-owners sold all of their stock for about $16 million, Mr. Dickerson sued for a $2.6 million share, claiming his involvement as a minority business made him a partner, a position the courts rejected.

On a motion from member Jack Usry, the coliseum authority voted to revisit Mr. Dickerson's contract at a special-called meeting next month. Ms. Jenkins said she won't vote for it. Now is not the right time to put a new arena on the SPLOST ballot, considering the economy and the city's tight 2009 budget, she said.

"If I'm in place in a timely fashion," Mr. Dickerson said, "(voters) would get something very exciting and provocative to consider."

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.