USC Seeks Developer for 900-Acre Real Estate Project to Fund Stadium Upgrades and Boost Local Economy

"Real estate project visualization"

USC Calls for Developer for 900 Acres Real Estate Near its Football Stadium and Congaree River

COLUMBIA – The University of South Carolina (USC), home of the Gamecocks football team, announced on Wednesday its intention to invite developers for nearly 900 acres of land along the Congaree River. The University’s decision looks set to stimulate the economy, affecting urban development, housing sectors, hospitality and recreational areas in the region.

Funding Stadium Upgrades

The prime purpose for this developmental plan is to finance the refurbishments for the 89-year-old Williams-Brice stadium, undergoing improvements to its bathroom and concession facilities, while adding more high-end suites. The athletics department hopes to maintain and even increase the stadium’s 77,559 seats occupancy by boosting its appeal to affluent alumni and fans. The current number of luxury suites stands at 18, the second-lowest in the Southeastern Conference, with interest outpacing supply and the waiting list exceeding 100.

“As the nation emerges from the global COVID-19 pandemic, the collegiate athletics marketplace has made a permanent shift that has increased the value of premium spaces,” USC officials wrote in a declaration to potential developers.

A Boost to the Columbia Tourism Industry

The USC’s proposal to developers aims to augment the Gamecocks’ nationwide reputation. As stated by the University board, this development could enhance Columbia’s tourism industry all around the year. Used as a reference are the entertainment districts such as the one surrounding the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium and the Atlanta Braves’ Truist Park, with its contiguous Battery area. While a wide array of ideas is entertained, potential developers are encouraged to “think big.”

Previous Development Attempts

This area of land along the Congaree River is not new to development pitches. The early 2000’s saw an ambitious project by a partnership called Carolina Venture aiming to construct a “city within a city” on the said tract. This ambitious plan, labeled Green Diamond, boasted of subdivisions, hotels, outlet malls, golf courses, offices, a development and research park, restaurants, a wildlife expo, and even a theme park. However, the development got stifled due to federal and Richland County’s floodplain regulations.

Future Plans

For these nearly 900 acres of land, the majority of it, except about 40 acres, sits in a flood plain, remaining undeveloped after a decade-long lawsuit reaching the S.C. Supreme Court. USC hence projects a variety of outdoor recreational facilities based on the land’s geography, such as golf courses for the floodplains, and possibly constructing vertical structures on the available high grounds. The university’s sporting department insists that the new development should be located behind the Gamecock Park, which serves as the school’s football team facilities and a significant tailgating lot.

The Road Ahead

The new development is to be leased out to developers, serving as a revenue stream for the planned stadium improvements, however, exact financial expectations have not been disclosed by the university so far. USC Spokesperson Jeff Stensland commented that such a setup could also provide benefit to Richland County with new taxes from any new developments. It is expected that the identification of the appropriate developer with matching financial capability and expertise may take up to six months. In terms of property acquisition, USC has spent $3 million on 547 acres out of the said land, while the university will not shoulder any costs for development or maintenance.

USC Seeks Developer for 900-Acre Real Estate Project to Fund Stadium Upgrades and Boost Local Economy

Author: HERE Irmo

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