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Money and votes needed for new James Brown Arena

Published: Jul. 6, 2021 at 6:40 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Augusta took a big step Tuesday in the plans for a new James Brown Arena. The city still needs at least $200 million to pay for it. Richmond County voters already voted to give $25 million towards the new JBA.

Today the group overseeing the project opted to ask for $15 million early. The big question being hashed out today and in the months ahead, how to pay for it.

September of 2024 that is the goal date to have the new James Brown Arena completed. In order to reach that goal, it’s crucial the development stays on schedule. That’s why money and your vote will make the difference.

It’s been a long time coming, but the new JBA is making progress.

“We have the momentum going, we have people working, and the thing we don’t want to do is have to stop the momentum,” said Cedric Johnson, Coliseum Authority chairman.

It’s 86 pages. The Coliseum Authority’s new bond resolution allows them to collect $15 million of the total $25 million allocated in SPLOST 8 early.

“It’s {for} continuation with architects, and look for builders, contractors...so it really keeps us right on target until about November,” said Johnson.

In November, they’ll need your help to continue the project. The Coliseum Authority will form a bond referendum for the remaining costs needed to break ground in April.

“You know we don’t see them a whole lot, but we do see them,” said Lynn Bailey, Richmond County Board of Elections Director.

Bond referendums give the city permission to use future taxpayer dollars or other revenue sources upfront for big projects. The new JBA kicked off with a $5 million bond last year. Only 6 percent of voters turned out.

“There’s just a single issue on the ballot, generally we do see low turnout,” said Bailey.

We have a vote in November we need people to come out and vote ‘yes’ for,” said Johnson.

In addition to the SPLOST funding and bonds, the authority is working with the city to receive federal funds for the new JBA and other projects.

Chairman Williams says the more the project is delayed the more expensive it could get. But with this resolution passing today the project is still on track. They expect construction will take about 18 months.

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