Columbia County could attract as many as 100 events yearly if it had an arena, members of the county's arena committee were told Thursday night by an arena management company.
"I truly believe that this area is a very viable area for an arena like you're talking about," said Preston Williams, of the company SMG Management Corp., which oversees such facilities as The Arena at Gwinnett Center.
Williams said that if the county decided to proceed with an arena, "I think going in you've got the probability of doing 100-plus events a year.''
Williams said that so far he has been impressed with how Columbia County has explored the idea of an arena, setting up the Arena/Entertainment Facility Committee.
"I think you're pretty much on track,'' he said. "You're looking at the right things.''
After the presentation, committee members talked about how they are awaiting the results of a bond referendum in Richmond County, which will ask voters there whether they approve of a $60 million bond proposal for the construction of an arena there.
"I think we have to give them a chance to do what they're doing,'' said Columbia County Administrator Steve Szablewski, who also is a member of the arena committee, which has been given the directive to determine the desirability of an arena in the county.
The Columbia County committee was established soon after Richmond County voters rejected extension of a special purpose local option sales tax in November, which would have provided for construction of an arena at the closed Regency Mall, among other projects.
Officials with Augusta Entertainment LLC, which attempted to work out a memorandum of understanding with Richmond County last year about an arena there, have said they will give Augusta one more chance on the idea.
If voters don't approve the idea in Richmond County, Augusta Entertainment officials have said they'll turn to Columbia County.
The Columbia County arena committee plans to have a final recommendation and study review completed by June 23.
The group will present its findings to the Board of Commissioners in July.
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