The general manager of the James Brown Arena, Robert “Flash” Gordon, had less than a week to prepare for the largest event ever held at the entertainment complex: the funeral of soul-legend James Brown.
“Considering this is a home-going celebration, we want to treat it with respect but be as prepared as possible with the influx of people coming,” Gordon said.
Telephones rang all week at the administrative offices before the event, and Assistant General Manager Linda Roberts cut her vacation short by almost a week to help plan the largest memorial service in Augusta history.
According to Gordon, the Coliseum Authority will pay for most of the cost of the service. Roberts said that rental of the arena begins at a base price of $2,500 a day, but that amount is just for the shell of the building. Labor services, including concessions, stage labor, security and janitorial services, are the responsibility of the renter, as are insurance costs, lighting and sound operation, setup and breakdown of equipment, catering, parking, traffic control and equipment rental. But Gordon refused to stick a price tag on the event.
“It’s gonna be paid for with love,” he said. “We can do all things through Christ that strengthens us. We can do all things from where we get our strength. People get their strength from different places, and this coliseum gets its strength from different places.”
Love was the strength of James Brown’s message, Gordon said, and the reason that he drew honors and accolades throughout his life and his death. That love will ensure that the costs of the free, public event will be covered.
Talking about money takes people’s focus off of the ceremony and upsets them, he argued.
“All they can think about then is the dollar. We always have enough. When the gas bill went up, the coliseum had enough. Every time something goes up, we always have enough,” Gordon insisted. “Now, let’s don’t talk about money no more.”