AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF) – For Mayor Hardie Davis and others, this is what the future needs to look like. Calling the decision by the Coliseum Authority to approve Regency Mall as the site of the new James Brown arena as visionary.
“There will be future generations of Augustans who will look at this day this moment in time and say someone was willing to be courageous,” said Mayor Hardie Davis.
The Mayor says the arena at the mall will be the catalyst for economic growth along Gordon Highway.
“It will create a ripple effect of economic opportunity and investments in an area that’s long needed it and long desired it,” he said.
The quick decision to select Regency Mall was a surprise and shock to many, especially after the Coliseum Authority had voted earlier to keep the JBA downtown.
“It’s put south Augusta versus the entire community. It’s unfortunate. This is what you have when you have a lack of communication.”
Sounds like there was a lot of confusion?
“There was a lot of confusion yes sir you’re correct,” said Darren Smith of the Coliseum Authority who voted in favor of the Regency Mall site.
A new arena anywhere, Augusta will need the support of the public. Even the Mayor agrees the way the decision to build it at Regency has stumbled out of the gate, has impacted the public
“I would submit to you the overall handling of this process that I know very little pieces of it could have and should have been handled differently I level that at the feet of the Chairman and Vice Chairman,” said Mayor Davis.
Funding is far from finalized, and so is the public’s needed support.
I reminded the mayor that in 2004 in a solo vote on a proposal to use $80 million in sales tax money to build a sports complex at Regency Mall was rejected by 66 percent of Augusta voters. The mayor basically said this is much better arena plan.