Fresh graphics are already in place inside James Brown Arena in Augusta, Ga. (Courtesy James Brown Arena)

Removal of freestanding marquee in rebranding effort worried some fans

James Brown fans can rest easy. The Godfather of Soul’s name is staying on the arena in his hometown.

Some admirers of the legendary singer thought otherwise when James Brown Arena in Augusta, Ga., temporarily replaced its outdoor sign recently, removing Brown’s name. Several locals protested their concerns on social media.

Brad Usry, vice chairman of the Augusta Coliseum Authority, said the name isn’t going anywhere. In fact, Brown’s name, images and iconic lyrics will be more prominent through a rebranding that’s already underway.

The 10-year-old sign was scheduled to be replaced due to its age as part of the rebranding. The marquee, on a freestanding sign outside the building, was temporarily replaced with a logo of the new brand, Augusta Entertainment Complex, an effort to join the arena with its sister venue, the Bell Auditorium, next door.

“We recently, for lack of a better word, jacked up the James Brown aspects of the arena with his likeness and lines from his songs on the concourse,” Usry said. “The building’s interior is funky; it screams his name loud and clear. You now know you’re in the James Brown Arena.”

He said those commenting on social media, despite a yearlong marketing effort, didn’t get the message and misconstrued the temporary sign change.

“Despite our branding campaign with billboards and newspaper articles, people thought we were secretly trying to remove James Brown’s name from the arena,” Usry said. “That couldn’t be further from the truth. We are in the process of replacing the venue, so we definitely do not want to create any controversy.”

He added that, in hindsight, changes to the building’s exterior should have been completed first so that people wouldn’t have received mixed messages. 

“We didn’t perceive this issue until it happened,” Usry said. “But the controversy was from social media, and we can and will resolve it.”

The rebranding is an effort to put the two buildings under the Augusta Entertainment Complex umbrella, as both share the same land.

Phase 1, completed Nov. 15, incorporates custom signs that make for Instagrammable moments while adding some atmosphere and helping arena patrons find their way.

Signage on the interior first floor stairwell includes well-known James Brown song lyrics “Do Your Thing,” “Get Down” and “Get on Up” incorporated in a graphic with Augusta Entertainment Complex within it. A “Do Your Thing” sign portrays an arrow leading guests to the arena floor. “Bring It On” and “Feel Good” adorn the floor level landing doors. An image of Brown and the lyrics “Get on The Good Foot” and “Funky Good Time” are on the east corridor’s north corner wall.

Phase 2 begins Dec. 1 and is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2020. The same branded signage on the exterior entrance and the overhead entrance’s interior stairs and throughout the east corridor.

The 40-year-old James Brown Arena is slated to be replaced in about five years but will be rebuilt in the same location.

“We’re still in the planning stages but hope to break ground in the next couple of years,” Usry said.

Usry, who is a native of Augusta, said that James Brown was a friend of his parents and that his family decorated his house for Christmas for a few years.