Wed, April 24, 2024

We’re paying for JBA construction starting Monday

If you’re among the tens of thousands of people who buy goods and services in Richmond County, you will begin paying an additional half-penny sales tax on Monday, April 1.

Money collected will cover the cost of building a new James Brown Arena. Demolition of the existing arena is expected to begin in July. The $250 million bond issue was approved by voters in November 2023.

Mike Harvey, Vice President of Project Design with Nations Group, owner’s representative for the Coliseum Authority, told ABD they are ready to bring in demolition and construction crews.

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“We’re going to get contractor interviews and select a contractor as a key part of this integral team. Make sure the project is on budget and schedule that we promised,” he said.

Brad Usry, Chairman of the Coliseum Authority’s new JBA subcommittee, said the target completion is late in 2026.

“We were going to be in a very aggressive timeline that we see finishing in late 2026, which is the timeline we projected at the beginning,” he said.

Usry said a report from the management company made it clear it is time to replace the aging facility, built in the 1970s.

Chris Martin of Oak View Group, which manages the Augusta Entertainment Complex, told Coliseum Authority members they had to perform emergency repairs that cost more than $18,000.

“This is the reason for the new building, said Usry. “Those are things for safety reasons. We have to keep the building safe because we have to take care of it.”

Martin said a March 16 show in the arena set a new high attendance. WWE Road to Wrestlemania brought 6,443 fans, including rapper/singer/songwriter TPain.

“I did some research history and that’s the largest crowd we’ve had for WWE in 15 years,” he said, and he thinks nostalgia played a role. “Really excited and obviously, having the last one in the current arena.”

Authority members were also updated on the progress of renovations to the Bell Auditorium.

“It has really taken shape on the inside,” said H.B. Brantley, owner’s representative for this phase of the project. “The existing terrazzo floor and the lobby have been polished and are being restored. It blends in well with what we’re doing with the Grand Lobby. They’re doing the hardscape work right now. The contractors are very aggressively moving towards the end of April completion date.”

Brantley said it would take about a month after that for the finishing touches, including furniture and fixtures.

The Bell is set to re-open and hold its first show on May 31. It will be singer/songwriter Ben Folds, former lead singer of the band Ben Folds Five.

In addition to renovations to the Bell and construction of the new JBA, the project includes a concourse that will connect the two buildings.

Progress can be followed at https://newaugustaarena.com/. Updated Requests for Proposals (RFPs) from contractors will also be posted there.

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