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USC unveils $1B 'game changer' project to develop area around football stadium

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Big changes could be coming to Williams-Brice Stadium and other locations around Columbia as part of an elaborate $1 billion development project announced Tuesday, Feb. 8 by the University of South Carolina.

University officials announced they will begin to seek proposals from developers for a massive project that could eventually include improvements to the stadium as well as new developments on property the university owns elsewhere in the city.

Officials estimate the total cost of the development project could reach $1 billion and hope to raise funds through private donations.

The university has started a process to “determine the feasibility of a major modernization of Williams-Brice Stadium” and said the project could also include development of more than 800 acres of undeveloped property owned by USC and its foundation located near the Congaree River and west of the existing Long Family Football Operations Facility, according to a news release.

The university has opened what is known as a “Request for Information” process to identify potential developers for the project, and officials said the results of the RFI are due back to them by the beginning of March.

“We believe this could be a game changer for our university,” said USC Athletics Director Ray Tanner in the release. “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 experiences these enhancements can bring which will positively impact the local community.”

Improvements to the stadium could include significant changes to seating, parking and other amenities. Work on the stadium and development on the property near the Congaree would take place during the first phase of the project. A second phase would involve the development of 17 acres the University owns near Colonial Life Arena in downtown Columbia which is currently occupied mainly by surface parking.

Specific details about what would be developed on the USC property near the Congaree and near Colonia Life Arena were not yet available.

University officials did stress that rumors that USC was planning to move the stadium or purchase and redevelop the S.C. State Fairgrounds were not accurate.

Reach Christina Lee Knauss at 803-753-4327.

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