AUGUSTA, Ga. (WFXG) - After much conversation on social media and with ground broken on the new James Brown Arena, the CEO and owner of sports and entertainment group Zawyer Sports confirms the group could own the new hockey team if the sport gets the chance to come back to Augusta.

Zawyer Sports CEO and owner Andrew Kaufmann said the group is excited to bring hockey back to Augusta. "We're chomping at the bit," he said.

Kaufmann said the group believes the new Augusta team's opening night could be in October 2028, depending on the progress of construction at the new James Brown Arena.

"We are excited," Kaufmann said. "I wish it was tomorrow."

Zawyer Sports & Entertainment owns five other hockey clubs including the Savannah Ghost Pirates and the Jacksonville Icemen.

He says Augusta's new hockey team would play in the ECHL. According to Kaufmann, it has yet to be determined which team the new hockey team would be an affiliate of.

Kaufmann also tells FOX54 that there will be plans to create an icehouse somewhere for the community, but the exact funding is yet to be determined.

In previous years, hockey teams like the former Augusta Lynx, did not turn out to be successful for the area. However, Kaufmann said Zawyer Sports group is confident the new team will last.

"We are 1,000,000% confident that the team will be successful," he told FOX54. "I've spent considerable time in the community with community leaders and folks who have been a part of the commission to bring pro hockey back to your great region."

The exact timeline is subject to change based on the construction of the new arena, but Kaufmann says Zawyer Sports is committed to bringing back hockey to the CSRA. 

"We're ready to bring a team, we're just waiting for a building to go up." Kaufmann said. 

For any hockey fans looking to get their hockey fix in before the new JBA is built, Kaufmann suggests making the trip down to Savannah. 

"For anyone in Augusta who is curious to see what it might look like, I would make the short trip to Savannah this upcoming season. The season starts October 19th and it runs through April and you'll get a sneak peek at what you are going to see in Augusta very soon." Kaufmann said.

Kaufmann added that the naming process for a potential expansion team typically involves the community giving submissions and residents will vote on their favorite choice. 

FOX54 has reached out to the Mayor's Office about the potential timeline for a hockey team. They told us they are not able to comment at this time.

Brad Usry with the Augusta Coliseum Authority told FOX54 that talks about bringing hockey to Augusta are still ongoing.

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