South Carolina athletics exploring billion-dollar Williams-Brice Stadium modernization project

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COLUMBIA — The University of South Carolina athletics department announced Tuesday that it has issued a formal Request for Information regarding a billion-dollar modernization project at and around Williams-Brice Stadium, home of the Gamecocks' football team.

There are no formal plans, timelines or budgets set for the project, but the RFI allows the university to hear ideas from developers for more than 800 acres of undeveloped property already owned by the university. Senior university officials expect the vast majority of funding for the project to come from private contributions.

The university has no plans to acquire new land for the project, including the State Fairgrounds, according to senior university officials. The project will not move the stadium from its current location, nor will construction impact the Gamecocks' home football schedule.

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South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner said one of the primary goals of the project is to expand premium offerings inside of Williams-Brice Stadium. The Gamecocks have the second-fewest number of luxury suites among SEC stadiums, and the suites currently have more than 100 fans on the waiting list.

"It's certainly evident that people want premium experiences," Tanner said. "They want to have good parking. They want to have great food. They want to have luxury boxes if that suits them, or great seating or chair backs or whatever the case may be."

According to senior university officials, improvements inside of Williams-Brice will likely include upgrades to concessions, bathrooms and the concourses. Tanner said the goal is to improve all levels of the fan experience while maintaining affordable tickets for the "average fan".

"We're not turning the entire stadium into premium seating," Tanner said. "We may have an opportunity to enhance the general seating ... so this does not exclude them. We will include them as well when we move through the process of any type of phases that we go through and changes that we can make."

The property being considered for development outside of Williams-Brice Stadium includes just under 850 acres of floodplains along the Congaree River.

In 2015, the South Carolina Supreme Court struck down a proposed development project called Green Diamond on 547 acres of the floodplain. The court ruled that the development violated federal construction restrictions on flood plains, and the land flooded during the historic 2015 flood. The developer, Burroughs and Chapin, sold the land to the university in 2020.

Responses to the RFI are due to the university by March 7, and Tanner said the university hopes to break ground within the next 12 to 15 months.

This article originally appeared on Greenville News: South Carolina exploring billion-dollar football stadium modernization