AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF)- Tuesday, voters in Richmond County will decide the fate of the James Brown Arena. They will vote on whether or not to put a half penny sales tax in place to help pay for a new, updated arena.
If voters say no on this, there will be no other way to get a new JBA, because this is the last attempt to bring a new and modern arena to Augusta.
If it’s built, lots of new amenities would be added to include more seats to fit 10,500 people.
Supporters say the current one is outdated and can’t support a lot of the technology used by entertainers.
“It goes back to the fact that any big acts…I mean we just really can’t do it logistically. So, they’re not coming here. You have to go to Atlanta to see them,” explained longtime downtown business owner, Coco Rubio, who supports a new James Brown Arena.
Rubio said that if Augusta isn’t able to build a new JBA, surrounding counties could do it instead. And that would be taking money out of small business owners downtown.
“You notice when there is a show at the Bell Auditorium or the current James Brown Arena, at the Miller, at the Imperial, how it benefits all the businesses downtown. It’s time to, you know, just take it to a whole new level where I think we deserve quality of life in Augusta. Let’s go. Let’s do it,” he said.
People on social media are pretty vocal about this, on both sides. Many are in full support, hoping it will draw bigger acts to the area.
But others say Augusta doesn’t need a new arena, that the current one is fine and should just be renovated.
“Does the building need repair? Absolutely. Is it completely outdated? No. I was just in it for something a few months ago, and it’s dirty. There’s trash all around it, but it’s still a very viable building,” said Michael Thurman.
Thurman doesn’t support a new JBA and saying that in the past Augusta hasn’t supported things like the arena football or hockey teams and he doesn’t see that changing.
He doesn’t believe a new arena will make any difference in attracting events to Augusta and that the money would be better spent elsewhere.
“Take care of some of the problems that we have with the schools, with the crime, with the lack of police, the roads, the lack of sidewalks, and so man other things. Let’s work on that. Let’s put this much attention to that for the next three to five years,” said Thurman.
Voters in Richmond County will make their voices heard on a new half penny sales tax Tuesday, November 7.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Photojournalist: Will Baker.