The Augusta RiverHawks were established as a new franchise in the Southern Professional Hockey League in 2010. They replaced the Augusta Lynx, who had played in the city for ten years before folding in 2008. The name "RiverHawks" was announced for the new club on March 13, 2010 as the winning result of a fan vote. The Riverhawks opened their inaugural season on the road on October 21, 2010, losing to the Fayetteville FireAntz. They had their home opener the following evening, against 2009–10 SPHL champions the Huntsville Havoc, ultimately losing 5–3, however they went on to place second in league by the season's close.
In late February 2013, the ice refrigeration system at the James Brown Arena malfunctioned, causing the ice surface to melt. This forced the RiverHawks to play their remaining home games at their practice facility, where attendance was limited to season ticket holders and sponsors. Team owner Bob Kerzner, the city of Augusta, and arena operator Global Spectrum could not reach an agreement on repairing or replacing the arena's ice system in time for the club to commit to the 2013–14 SPHL season, forcing Kerzner to temporarily suspend team operations. Kerzner stated that he would retain his franchise rights during the RiverHawks' hiatus, hoping to return to play in the 2014–15 season.