USC initiates step for proposed Williams-Brice Stadium project
In what could become the most exciting and comprehensive development project ever undertaken in the Midlands, the University of South Carolina has started the process to determine the feasibility of a major modernization of Williams-Brice Stadium that could also pave the way for the development of more than 800 acres of undeveloped USC property situated adjacent with the Congaree River, west of the existing Long Family Football Operations Facility.
USC’s issuance of a formal Request for Information (RFI) on Tuesday is the first step in determining the potential scope of the project as well as identifying possible development partners who have an interest in pursuing a comprehensive land use agreement with the university. The eventual agreement could generate significant private funding for improvements to Williams-Brice Stadium, allowing for the expansion of the venue’s use for other public events in addition to football games.
“We believe this could be a game changer for our university,” said South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner. “These projects are envisioned to create a fan experience second-to-none in college athletics. We are also looking at expanding the variety of events and opportunities these enhancements can bring, which will positively impact the local community.”
Ed Walton, USC’s Executive Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer, said the potential for forging a business partnership would allow for significant revenue generation without burdening students or taxpayers.
“We have a once in a generation opportunity to move forward on needed facility improvements through a partnership that doesn’t require public financing,” Walton said. “We intend to develop a project and select a partner who has a strong track record of creating commercial projects that benefit the entire community through job creation and new businesses that will make Columbia and the Midlands more vibrant than ever.”
The project will not include moving Williams-Brice Stadium from its current location or acquiring and developing the State Fairgrounds. Tanner said, “We don’t need to acquire new properties. We need to take advantage of all USC has to offer.” No disruption to future home football game schedules is anticipated.
A second phase of the project is the potential for continued private development of more than 17 acres adjacent to Colonial Life Arena, west of Park Street (see map). “The area along Greene Street leading to the Congaree River is red hot for development. We want to see what we can offer to encourage further opportunities built there around USC and Gamecock sports,” said Tanner.
The RFI results are due back to the university at the beginning of March and will provide the university with an informed understanding of current industry capabilities and practices to better determine how it moves forward with the procurement.
The University has set up an information website on this project at GamecocksOnline.com/StadiumProject.