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Community stewardship, informed by data
Why do we need a new arena?
The current arena was built in 1972 and is considered “functionally obsolete” due to its age and condition. Perhaps more importantly, it simply does not reflect the amazing city we are!
The New James Brown Arena will be a point of civic pride and a true destination to anchor the Augusta Entertainment Complex. The new Complex will also include a substantial new park and civic plaza for welcoming the community year-round, not just when events are occurring. New connections to the Bell Auditorium will foster a true Entertainment Complex unlike any other – with two amazing venues under one roof, plus an outdoor plaza for pre-event and community functions on event and nonevent days.
Why can’t the current arena just be renovated?
While certain areas of the arena could be renovated, this would not be a wise investment because the building itself is just too out-of-date. There are challenges that simply cannot be fixed, such as:
- Inadequate rigging capacity for larger events
- Poor sightlines from permanent seating positions
- Limited operational flexibility – i.e., few options for arranging the stage and seats, which severely limits the number and types of shows and events we can host
- Inadequate number, size, and quality of restrooms, locker rooms, and performer dressing areas.
- Lack of adjacent outdoor civic space
Renovations would require millions of dollars to upgrade or replace most of the current systems need major renovations, including mechanical (HVAC), electrical, and plumbing. Other interior and exterior renovations needed include concessions, food service, roof, and parking lot needs. It is simply not responsible to invest this kind of money into a building that is so outdated.
With new Construction connecting the buildings we get many operational efficiencies: common state of art kitchen, loading dock for both venues, common box office, management office with access to both venues, and community spaces. New construction also allows for diversification of revenue that will go to operations and maintenance of the complex.
How many seats will be in the new arena?
It’s not just new seats – it’s better seats too! The new arena will have up to 11,000 seats. (For comparison, the current arena has approximately 7,000 seats.) But it’s not just numbers – the new arena will be much more comfortable, with wider seats, more legroom, and a variety of seating options. We’re going bigger, but not too big! Our new arena is “right-sized” for our market so we can attract the shows and events we want, but make sure we can also sell the seats.
Will the arena be available for community groups?
Absolutely!!! The New James Brown Arena will be a place for everyone in Augusta! Meeting rooms, a new state-of-the-art ballroom, and rooftop terraces provide an array of options for community groups, college reunions, annual fundraisers, corporate parties – you name it!
I don’t go to the current arena. How will a new one benefit me?
You may not go to the Arena now…but the New James Brown Arena will open new and different opportunities for Augusta that simply don’t exist with our current facility. Even if you never go downtown, there’s still something in it for you. In fact, there’s something in it for all of us.
The financial return will benefit everyone! In a 30-year timeframe, the New James Brown Arena and Entertainment Complex are expected to generate:
- $1.5 billion in direct, indirect, and induced spending
- $656 million in new earnings
- Over 600 new jobs
- $36 million from sales, hotel, and beverage taxes
Will this compete with the convention center?
Not at all! In fact, the new Arena will be quite complimentary to the convention center by boosting the types and sizes of venues we have to offer.
What is a bond referendum?
This is where you – the voters – give the financing a thumbs up or a thumbs down. The bond referendum will ask voters to allow the Authority to raise money through the sale of bonds. Think of bonds like a loan that provides a cost-effective way to pay for large projects, as they allow for money to be repaid over time, instead of requiring all the money up front.
How will the bond be repaid?
The Authority will have up to 30 years to repay the debt through regular installments. Funds will come primarily from property tax, but the Authority is also exploring many other funding options for ways to repay the debt with other sources of revenue.
What will the new arena cost?
The New James Brown Arena will cost approximately $228 million dollars. Yes, we know it’s a lot of money. But the reality is…it is an investment in our city, our community, and our quality of life.
What will this cost me?
Based on the current tax digest and a very conservative projection for interest rates, we believe the mill (tax) rate needed to pay the bonds will be 2.7887 mills or less. The mill rate will be adjusted each year with the expectation that the digest will grow and the mill rate will decrease over time. Based on these assumptions, the tax on a $100,000 home would be approximately $97.60 per year or $8.13 per month.
Why is the amount of the bond referendum higher than the cost?
For the Authority to move forward with the bond referendum in November, the amount of bond had to be determined in July to follow the required process by state law. At that time, the New James Brown Arena cost estimate was higher than the current estimate. Just because the bond is approved for $240 million doesn’t mean we will utilize the full amount.
What happens if the bond referendum doesn’t pass?
If the referendum doesn’t pass, we will not have funding to construct a new arena. The current arena has already been determined to be functionally obsolete and will require a substantial investment to keep it operational. ARCCA will keep operating the current facility for as long as possible , but at some point, operating the facility may no longer be financially viable. Meanwhile, the current project cost of $235 million will increase at a rate of between 3% to 5% each year that the project is delayed.
Presentations & Fact Sheet
Augusta Coliseum Meeting – September 17, 2020
News & Media
Local Matters: Why Not Augusta? with Cedric Johnson and Brad Usry of the Augusta Richmond County Coliseum Authority
Research & Analysis Reports
The New James Brown Arena has been carefully planned with thoughtful consideration taken at every phase.
The reports below document our findings and are available for download.