AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — The Bell Auditorium will close for a period of approximately ten months for extensive renovations and expansion.

A spokesperson for HB Brantley Enterprises, a construction firm involved in the project, tells WJBF NewsChannel 6 that a discussion between all parties involved and the Coliseum Authority led to the Authority deciding to close the 2,700-seat venue from July 6, 2023, until at least May 10, 2024, to “allow the Contractor to complete their work in a more expeditious manner.”

The $884,000 project will include a new grand lobby on Seventh Street, more concessions areas, as well as men’s and women’s restrooms on both sides of the venue. The BMW Club will also be expanded.

“The overarching goal of the Authority is to continue to attract events to the City during the expansion and renovation of the Bell Auditorium,” the spokesperson tells NewsChannel 6.

The venue, which opened in 1940 as the Augusta Municipal Auditorium and was later renamed in memory of former Mayor William B. Bell, had last seen major renovations in 1988.

Coliseum Authority leaders hope that this is the first phase in a larger plan to connect the Bell Auditorium with the nearby James Brown Arena. Last year, voters voted against a referendum that would have increased taxes to help fund the construction of a replacement for the aging arena.

The 8,000-seat arena, originally built as an exhibition hall in 1974 and expanded in 1980 as the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center, will remain open and will “accommodate most events that would normally be held in the Bell Auditorium by using event drapes to create a more intimate setting.”