Minor-league hockey could return to Macon

Commissioners to hear proposal for Augusta RiverHawks moving to midstate

jgaines@macon.comJune 16, 2014 

Minor league hockey could return to the Macon Coliseum, according to a presentation scheduled before Macon-Bibb County commissioners at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Kevin Dowdell, director of sales and marketing for the Macon Centreplex -- which includes the coliseum -- is scheduled to discuss the possibility of Augusta’s RiverHawks moving to Macon.

The Augusta team, established in 2010, hasn’t been able to play in its James Brown Arena home since February 2013.

“Having hockey return to Macon would be very exciting,” Macon-Bibb spokesman Chris Floore said Monday. “We’ve seen success of teams for different periods of time, and I’m glad to see there’s still interest in locating here.”

Floore referred specific questions to Mark Butcher, general manager of the Marriott City Center, which manages the Centreplex under contract with the local government. Butcher did not return a call seeking comment Monday. The team also didn’t respond to a Monday email from The Telegraph.

RiverHawks owner Bob Kerzner told the Augusta Chronicle in October that he was considering moving the team to a new city. Leaky pipes in the James Brown Arena’s ice system prevented freezing, so the RiverHawks had to finish their 2013 season at their smaller Augusta Ice Sports Center practice facility. The team went on hiatus for the 2014 season, as a legal dispute over reimbursement for eight canceled home games dragged on.

The RiverHawks are part of the Southern Professional Hockey League, which began in 2004 and now has nine active teams, including the Columbus Cottonmouths.

Macon was home to the minor-league Macon Whoopees during the 1973-74 season. Then, two decades later, hockey returned to Macon with the Macon Whoopee. That team called Macon home from 1996-2002. After their departure, The Macon Trax played here from 2002-2005. During the Trax’s final season, the team was a member of the Southern Professional Hockey League.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.

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