Augusta set to play $150K 'Simon Says' game with TEE Center management deal

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News 12 First at Five / Monday, Sept. 24, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The city of Augusta is set to play an expensive game of "Simon Says." The new Trade, Exhibit and Events Center will soon be complete, and there is still no management agreement.

The expected operator, Paul Simon, says they need to get it done.

City leaders are dropping the TEE after an expensive marketing campaign about the "possibilitees" at Augusta's new TEE Center.

"It was a nice catchy name during the process, but now that is over," Simon said.

The new name is now on the building. It reads Augusta Convention Center.

"What is a TEE Center?" Simon said. "People around the world may not know what TEE Center is."

Simon says construction is more than 90 percent complete.

"We can't allow the same thing that happened with the parking deck transaction to be extended over a long period of time," Simon said.

Simon says the management deal for the center itself must be done in a matter of weeks.

"If we can't get the people hired and trained we can't do it," he said.

Simon says it would take 90 days for training. The first paying group is expected in January.

"So I just want to put that out there so they will know that they've got plenty of time," he said. "We can have a work session. We can get their questions answered and get it done."

Simon says the management fee would top out at $150,000.

"That's a flat fee per year," he said. "If they want to raise the fee, that's fine, but we can't lower it."

Simon says any sort of delay could force them to tell the State Police Chiefs group they will have to find another venue in January. Simon says it is time to get the management deal done.

"Because the center is finished and you can't let it sit over there vacant," he said.

Commissioners received the suggested contract as information. They say they need time to study the documents. We understand, like the deck, there is a lien on a portion of the property. Simon says, like the deck, those liens will be released when the deal goes through.

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