AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – City officials say it wasn’t the new arena that was rejected by voters Tuesday, it was the plan to pay for it. But a new arena for Augusta is dead in its tracks, so does that open the door for a neighboring county to take center stage?
A new arena has been a big dream for the garden city for years now, but voters just sent supporters a wakeup call, so is the dream over.
“Obviously I wished it would have passed and we could have moved forward, but not at all, I feel we’ll go back and do our due diligence a little bit better,” says Commissioner Sean Frantom.
Augusta wanted a new arena to serve the entire region, but now the ‘no’ vote, there are already thoughts a neighbor like Columbia County could be ready to fill the void.
“That was one of the things we knew going in, we want to keep the main arena in this region in Augusta, that’s why we worked so hard,” said Coliseum Authority Chairman Cedric Johnson.
Commissioners will have to support any new financial plans for a new arena, so how do they feel about its chances of going elsewhere?
“I see it being built in Richmond County, I don’t care what Columbia County does, we’re going to do what we need to do in Augusta for our people,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Bobby Williams.
“I really don’t think Columbia County wants to get involved, at this point in time they just built a beautiful, beautiful state of the art smaller venue,” said Commissioner John Clarke.
“I do think if we don’t get going here pretty quickly that could be a possibility, but I feel confident that we’ll get it back in the taxpayer’s hands to make that decision in the near future,” said Frantom.
Now city leaders want to see quick work made for a new funding package for a new arena that would include some bonding and they would like to see another vote by the middle of next year.