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Guest Column: South Carolina Lawmakers Are Spending $4 Million On A Soccer Stadium

“Why are GOP legislators continuing to fund projects the market would take care of – if there was really any money to be made from them?”

by JENNIFER BLACK

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.

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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.

(Click to view)

Proposed Greenville Triumph stadium (McMillan/ Pazdan/ Smith)

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:

(Click to view)

S.C. budget amendment line items. (Provided)

Amendment 1A (.pdf) contained all the legislative requests to change H. 4300, the 2023-2024 state budget. This amendment contains all the “earmarks” House members are asking the state to subsidize. 

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.

(Click to view)

(Provided)

Jennifer Black is a Christian mother, accountant and conservative activist from Greenville, South Carolina.

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10 comments

Go, Karen! May 15, 2023 at 6:45 pm

Wait till this Karen hears about these Christian Mega Churches that pay zero taxes and makes no contribution to all the roads and infrastructure they use while creating headache levels of traffic every week!

I’m sure after her crusade against soccer, she’ll get right on those horrible menaces, Christian churches. Gross!!!

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KC Resident May 16, 2023 at 1:37 am

She doesn’t sound like a Karen at all. She sounds like but one more taxpayer, overburdened with non-essential spending by politicians who have zero understanding of what are and are not core functions of government. I understand for some time, that Kershaw County Council has considered ridiculous expenditures for a sports facility near the old Camden railroad depot. Personal property taxes and fees in Kershaw County have grown absolutely ridiculous, yet some of their council members are never at a loss for new, frivolous ways to squander taxpayer funds on unnecessary items.

As for your complaint about the churches, please take that up with The Constitution. I believe that is where the doctrine of not taxing them originates from, not the author of this article.

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SC Res May 16, 2023 at 6:53 am

There should actually be more people like Ms. Black who are concerned about wasteful government spending. I would like to see that money spent on infrastructure or upgrades to schools in the area. This reminds me of the City of Greenville, which is a huge wasteful spender itself. $4.5M from hospitality and tourism taxes is being spent to build a tower, but downtown restaurants are being forced to close or move out because of rent. Again, they care more about being an attraction for the out-of-towners than its own residents.

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SC GOP May 16, 2023 at 8:23 am

That’s $4 million that COULD be going to corporations! How DARE they!

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Astonished Top fan May 16, 2023 at 10:30 am

Of course, it’s in Peeler Country!!!

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John Doe May 16, 2023 at 10:33 am

Why does she feel the need to throw “Christian” in her description? Does a “Christian mother” immediately have more credibility than any other mother? Anyone who casually throws a descriptor like that into a brief bio is sending up red flags.

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Howard (Hal) Lindbergh Top fan May 16, 2023 at 4:54 pm

Now don’t go getting upset, Karen John Doe. The descriptor “Christian” means she has certain values and holds dear the traditions of our values and upbringings. If you can’t feel this, then go back where you came from.

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John Doe May 16, 2023 at 8:33 pm

Back where I came from? You mean the east side of Greenville County, where I was born and raised?

People and businesses who randomly throw in that they are “Christian” are simply trying to curry favor with a people. As a guest columnist in a political blog, she should stand on her own ideas and writings.

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Brian Sizemore Top fan May 16, 2023 at 2:00 pm

She makes a LOT of sense, to a point where I get upset about how excited I’d been that Mauldin will get this attention. That exit/bridge on Bridges Rd is in DIRE need of attention. There are SO many churches in the area. I grew up next to Brookwood and Bethel Elem. before Brookwood’s current structure was built. Bridges Rd., from Mauldin High to Holland Rd. needs to be widened, and all the way to Hwy 14. Brookwood alone could do the Christian thing and donate to the issue. I’ve had to stop traffic in front of my Mother’s driveway and demand one of these “disciples” let her onto the road she lived on and paid taxes on.
She’s right, but it’s still exciting to see this growth in the Mauldin/Simpsonville area, a top local soccer hub that’s closer to Mesa Soccer Complex and Southside Park.

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P. Paul Gorski May 16, 2023 at 4:19 pm

It appears we have an abundance of Building Construction Companies in the area to provide work for all the new businesses and housing but not enough Road Construction Companies to provide proper access to these buildings. In this specific situation they say it will take ten years to accomplish that. Greenville’s roads are old county horse and buggy roads trying to meet the demands of a high population Urban County. I agree it will take ten years to develop the road infrastructure, but there should have been a plan years ago for that. With all this talk about rezoning areas for redevelopment etc. what consideration is being given to roadways? I was in Omaha, NE for a youth sports game last Saturday and experienced the upgraded road systems throughout the town and county. The changes they’ve made in the last five to ten years are amazing. Our city planners should take a trip there to see how and what they’ve done. As far as the Soccer Stadium is concerned, look around to other cities as to how the finance such structures. What is this facility going to be called?

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