Business leaders: Civic Center needs changes - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Business leaders: Civic Center needs changes

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January 18, 2005

Albany- In 2004, Clear Channel Radio used Chehaw Park as the venue for major concerts, not the Albany Civic Center.

"We're just looking for a better working environment," said John Richards, the general manager at Clear Channel Radio. "One that's conducive to success both for the city and the business partner."

That's not the environment they found at the civic center.

"You're looking at a venue that in all of 2004 had 19 events. That can't be a successful record," Richards said.

So the owner of the Wildcats and executives from the Albany Symphony, WALB, and Clear Channel Radio sent a letter to city commissioners and the interim city manager complaining about bad experiences at the Civic Center.

"The question is what can we all do together to make the Civic Center a more viable center of activity for the community and South Georgia," said Mike Storen, owner of the South Georgia Wildcats.

The letter states the problems "in many cases have caused the individuals or organizations to simply stop doing business with the Civic Center."

Interim City Manager Lem Edwards went straight to Civic Center Director Maddie Goddard.

"We will talk about it and take the necessary time to go over each item and make sure we can satisfy the writers of those letters and correspond back to them in a positive fashion," Edwards said.

Goddard denies that civic center administration is hurting business. But renters, promoters and sponsors say building leadership is bad for business.

"Perception is reality and something has to change," Richards said.

They say it needs to change before the South Georgia Wildcats arrive in Albany ready to play ball.

"So as a member of this community, we're interested in seeing the city grow, we're interested in seeing businesses prosper," said Storen.

They want to see a prospering civic center as part of that growth, instead of just a huge facility that's weighing a city down.

posted at 10:12 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com

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