Last year, I became apprised of a new potential tenant of a planned development in my area of the town of Mauldin, South Carolina. Bridgeway Station, a project by Hughes Development, is billed as an urban mixed-use development consisting of offices, residential, shopping and restaurants.
This new tenant was going to be our local soccer team, the Greenville Triumph. I was intrigued. I do not follow soccer, but I appreciate sports and although there were concerns that additional traffic volume would be coming to an already congested area right off the interstate – at concentrated times – I wasn’t terribly opposed to it.
Then, I learned the proposed addition would cost $40 million, and Greenville County was going to own it and pay for at least half of it (the rest was to be paid for by Triumph for soccer-specific amenities). That really concerned me because while I do not know much about soccer, I do know that it is not a year-round sport. What would come of this stadium during the off season? According to the Triumph owner Joe Irwin, of the 150 potential events a year, only a third of them would involve soccer. The remaining events? Concerts and festivals – potentially.
My concern is simple: The county (and its taxpayers) would be buying a brick-and-mortar soccer facility under the promise it would be paid for predominantly by hospitality taxes on what could potentially occur on the other two-thirds of supposed events. These events which are not guaranteed, though, and in my opinion are based on a false reality.
Why isn’t it guaranteed? In a county that has 600,000 residents – 50,000 of which live in the immediate service areas of this project – there already exists a large outdoor venue, one that is not at full capacity for events by a long shot. Simpsonville/ Mauldin isn’t exactly on the “map” for concerts that come into the Palmetto State. In fact, for Heritage Park – the large outdoor venue I just mentioned – to attract the events it does now, a management group that knows how to handle this type of business has to be contracted.
This is something the County of Greenville would have to contract for its new facility – at a cost.
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With this in mind, many residents called on our county council not to make a deal to buy into this venue – and to tell the private entities involved they would need to fund it themselves. The county finance committee decided to wait and have the City of Mauldin, developers, and county administrator go back to the drawing board – and we had not heard anything further.
Then, in the final days of the 2023 legislative season, the S.C. General Assembly decided it was going to chip into this deal to the tune of $4 million. Why is the state getting involved in local affairs on deals that have not even been solidified? When residents are not even on board with the arrangement?
Below is the specific request:
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What I cannot get my head around is why South Carolina lawmakers continue funding projects the market would take care of – assuming there was any money to be made. Also, why do they keep funding private projects when our road infrastructure is subpar in so many areas? For instance, just one exit down on Interstate 385 the Bridges Road overpass is in a state of disrepair.
The constant misappropriation of tax dollars and infrastructure inadequacies across the state are sources of huge frustration for the taxpaying citizens of South Carolina.
Speaking of infrastructure, when discussing this project with a Mauldin city council member a year ago – specifically asking what would be done to handle additional traffic volume from this development to a major artery – his answer was there would be no plan in place for the next ten years. Translation: Local residents will have a hard time getting out of their own neighborhoods while traffic inflow for these “games, festivals and concerts” clog the already overcrowded local roads for hours at a time.
It’s interesting there is no plan considering there is clearly $4 million in state funds available to fund this non-essential infrastructure project.
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Jennifer Black is a Christian mother, accountant and conservative activist from Greenville, South Carolina.
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