News 12 First at Five, June 17, 2008
AUGUSTA, Ga.---The James Brown Arena is dancing to a different tune these days. They welcomed a new management company called Global Spectrum on Tuesday.
"What a very pleasant surprise. I mean...I literally wasn't expecting any decision," said Frank Russo who is Senior Vice President of the company.
The decision came just a little more than hour after Frank and his team made their pitch.
"It works...if it's working in Aiken, it's working in Columbia, it oughta work in Augusta," said Richard Isdell who is chair of the coliseum authority.
The company manages more than 30 locations across the country including the USC Aiken Convention Center.
"There's enough business to go around. We feel that entertainment events breed more entertainment events, and the more we're here in the market the more events we can bring to the CSRA," said Jennifer Kelly who is general manger at the Aiken complex.
Bringing events to the James Brown Arena has been a challenge, and it is something that is not expected to change over night.
"We're gonna give them all the time they need. We're gonna turn this facility over to them. We're not gonna micro-manage them. They will truly inherit all our problems," said Isdell.
"We're more than ready. We're ready to start right now," said Russo.
They'll start with a little support. Comcast is a sister company.
"We're certainly going to work with them the way you work with family...whether it's adding messages to our customers bills...running commercials...whatever it takes," said Bill Botham with Comcast.
So will it be enough to bring people back out to the arena. We'll have to wait and see, but Comcast says they're certain of one thing...if the house isn't packed...
"It won't be because of a lack of effort, knowledge, or experience, because that is all gonna be there..it is a professional operation from top to bottom," said Botham.
Some call this move a conflict of interest. But managers were quick to point out that the USC Aiken Convocation Center seats 2,500. The James Brown Arena seats 8,000. They say it just broadens the playing field.
The authority is now negotiating a contract with Global Spectrum. The company is asking for $10,000 a month with start-up costs between $20,000 and $40,000.