Riverwood Plantation out in the Greenbrier area is a beautiful golf course. So are West Lake and Jones Creek, and the Bartram Trail course will no doubt be first-class.
Attractive as these links are, it's a pretty safe bet the Masters Tournament isn't going to be uprooted from the Augusta National and come out to a Columbia County venue.
But while Columbia County has zero chance of landing the area's No. 1 tourism attraction, the idea of landing the area's second-biggest event is an intriguing possibility.
That event, of course, is the Augusta Futurity, taking place this week at the Augusta Civic Center. The operators of that event (which includes the owner of this newspaper) have made no secret of the fact that they're unhappy with the venue. A new civic arena could count on drawing the 10-day Futurity and its $10 million annual impact.
So far, all talk of bringing a big enough arena to Columbia County is just blue-sky and speculation, but that's the place big ideas get their start. It may be too expensive, and ultimately the county may give up the notion.
Whatever the eventual outcome, county commissioners are going about it the right way by setting up the Arena/Entertainment Facility Committee to take a look at all the options.
"This is exciting to even be able to talk about," says County Commission Chairman Ron Cross. It is, indeed, exciting, but at this stage the excitement is similar to that felt by everyone watching from afar as a resident of nearby Washington wins $130 million in the lottery. It's fun to talk about the what ifs, but there isn't much meat on the bones of those wishes.
A good study will help Columbia County officials -- and, more importantly, taxpayers -- flesh out the details of just what it would mean in costs and benefits to move forward on such a big project.
As part of their study, members of the committee will hear from experts in the entertainment industry and take trips to some of the region's best mid-sized arenas.
We suggest they take the time this week to travel to Augusta's Civic Center to see the Futurity in action. It's not the Masters, but if this highly speculative arena project actually comes together, the Futurity could be one of many big events in Columbia County's future.
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