AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Efforts to upgrade signage at the James Brown Arena sparked a lot of discussion around the CSRA.
But the graphic currently on display is a big misunderstanding.
What we see on the sign now does not reflect the Coliseum Authority’s plan to improve the design and look at the JBA according to Chairman Cedric Johnson. But in the midst of the mistake we learned one thing, you can’t have Augusta without James Brown.
“He put Augusta on the map to me,” said Felicia Mitchell, of Augusta. “A lot of people know about Augusta through James Brown. He even wrote a song about Augusta. Augusta, GA!”
Whether it’s a man’s world or not, some people feel one man is responsible for giving the Garden City its notoriety. And when it comes to having a funky good time downtown, others say the name synonymous with entertainment should remain.
“I don’t think it’s a bad idea to include the Bell Auditorium with the James Brown Arena, but I think that it’s not a good idea for those in charge of making that decision to say, ‘oh well let’s introduce this without a complete picture’ because it definitely set off some strong passions about James Brown and his contribution to Augusta,” Renee Reynolds, of Hephzibah, said.
We caught up with Coliseum Authority Chairman Cedric Johnson. He told us the removal of the James Brown Arena sign is part of a new marketing campaign approved by the board earlier this year.
“Brand us as the Augusta Entertainment Complex including the William B. Bell Auditorium and James Brown Arena. In that plan, it also showed some renderings and different things we are going to do for James Brown inside the arena to more enhance his spirit and his name and his legacy,” Johnson said.
But the Godfather of Soul’s name was left off in error.
Johnson replied, “The marquee we have, which is old and small, was not large enough to hold the lettering.”
It was no disrespect, he added, and the board is also looking to add the James Brown’s name on the building too. But for those who will support the entertainment facility, the name means so much more.
Reynolds explained, “He poured not just money into the city, but acts of kindness and generosity to those who are underserved. I think that that’s very important that someone who is that kind of a cultural icon and [has] a commitment to people that they’re honored.”
Johnson expects the correction to be made in the next few months. He said that will give everyone time to make sure it’s done correctly.
Photojournalist: Mark Gaskins