James Brown Arena — The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

This column appears in the September 7, 2017 edition of Urban Pro Weekly.

Aside from talk of hurricanes, both near and far, the most popular story in Augusta these days is about a proposal to build the new James Brown Arena at the old Regency Mall property.

Personally, I think city leaders should move forward with that idea. It provides true economic opportunity to a section of town that has virtually been forgotten.

If only it were that simple.

The proposal has been complicated, not only because of the inner workings of local politics, but also because of details within the proposal that provide more questions than answers.

Taking all of this into consideration, it is time to present the good, the bad and the ugly of the proposal to build the new James Brown Arena at South Augusta.


Again, building the James Brown Arena (JBA) at the old Regency Mall property provides South Augusta with a true economic opportunity that has not been seen in the area in decades.

Literally every section of Augusta has experienced some type of revitalization — except South Augusta. The Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center will be in downtown Augusta, which will only boost an area that is seemingly always under the public eye. West Augusta is flourishing because so much of the area is adjacent to Columbia County. Even East Augusta has the promise of improving infrastructure and gentrification — excuse me, I meant the rise of pricey homes in the midst of formerly blighted neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, South Augusta can’t keep a Kroger, and before you say downtown can’t either, at least it has the Medical District. South Augusta is just a desert.

The new JBA can be the start of something big. It can have an effect from its roots at the intersection of Deans Bridge Road and Gordon Highway, and travel up through Peach Orchard Road, Windsor Spring Road and Tobacco Road.

Imagine a supplementary entertainment facility at Diamond Lakes — something like an amphitheater for outdoor concerts, or a commitment to a huge child-friendly play place that could draw folks from out of town and out of state.

I believe it would all be possible, if it wasn’t for…


The burden of responsibility for the controversy surrounding this proposal rests on the shoulders of one man — Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis.

Mayor Davis has been on the frontline regarding this proposal the entire way, from an email applauding the Coliseum’s (fourth-quarter) decision to build the arena on the Regency Mall property, to holding a press conference at the Municipal Building to talk about the “visionary” plan.

Visionary? Perhaps. Airtight? Unfortunately, no. And that’s heartbreaking.

The city doesn’t even own the land that it wants to build the arena on, which reads like a recipe for failure. It’s reminiscent of the controversy that surrounded the TEE Center and adjacent parking deck deal.

Now, here’s another important question relating to local leadership — where were the commissioners in all of this?

It appears as if they were more than comfortable allowing Mayor Davis to take the heat, which makes sense upon a review of their working history. Commissioners have complained in the past that the mayor worked in a spirit of autonomy and secrecy — “solo dolo,” if you will.

Still, this political climate and ill will does nothing to help the people of Augusta, particularly those in South Augusta. This collective failure of leadership is a bad sign for the city overall.

You’ve read the good and the bad. Now, click here to read the ugly: http://versesandtiles.com/2017/09/22/the-ugliness-of-augusta-and-america/

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