Breakdown of RiverHawks legal issues with Coliseum Authority

Breakdown of RiverHawks legal issues with Coliseum Authority

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - When ice melted at the James Brown Arena it sparked a hot debate: Is the Coliseum Authority responsible to pay the RiverHawks for the tens of thousands of dollars they lost when they had to play across town?

Their debate is coming down to a clause in a contract that both parties agreed to a couple years ago.

"It's called the Force Majeure clause, it's an act of nature clause that says if there are these catastrophic things that happen that are beyond anyones control, no one owes anyone else any money," said Ed Enoch, the attorney for the Coliseum Authority.

He says the contract between the RiverHawks and the operator of the James Brown Arena, Global Spectrum, L.P., clearly states that no one is responsible to pay for equipment failures.

Enoch says that means they aren't liable for the mechanical breakdown that caused the ice meltdown which forced the RiverHawks to move to the Augusta Ice Sports Center.

Mark Richards, the president of the RiverHawks, says the move cost them $150,000.

"It's put us out of business so it's a major issue for us. Obviously we can't play ice hockey without ice," said Richards.

He says the move was costly because it drastically reduced the number of people who could pay to see the RiverHawks play.

The RiverHawks recently hired attorneys to represent them against the Coliseum Authority.

Richards says they're focusing on the Force Majeure clause in their contract.

"That's what it's basically boiling down to for us, trying to determine if that provision holds water or if we have other options with this," Richards, said.

But Enoch says the clause doesn't leave much up to debate.

"It's very specific, mechanical failures were one of the things that were contemplated. Mechanical failures were one of those acts of God," he said.

Since the RiverHawks don't have a home in Augusta anymore there's a possibility that the team will eventually leave.

Members of the RiverHawks' booster club say the RiverHawks are considering leaving for Columbia County or another city in the Southeast.