John A. Carlos II

1st Round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at The Colonial Life Arena, in Columbia on March 22, 2019. John A. Carlos II / Special to The Free Times

When the first two rounds of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament came to Columbia in March, it pumped $11.3 million worth of direct spending into the Capital City. That number “exceeded expectations,” generating about $2 million more than initial projections, says Bill Ellen, president of the city’s convention and tourism arm Experience Columbia SC. “Those are new dollars coming into our city,” says City Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine, and it puts the city on the map as one visitors may choose to return to after the tournament ends. Over the course of four days, nearly 48,000 ticket holders came to town for the college sporting event. The tournament was the highest attended of the regionals held across the country, according to a study by the University of South Carolina’s College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management. Hotel occupancy during the week of the event was 81.7 percent, a 1.3 percent increase over the same week in 2018, says Jason Outman of Experience Columbia. Rates during the tournament were up 18.4 percent — $115 per night compared to $97 per night in 2018. Indirectly, the event brought in $1.38 million in sales and use taxes from businesses, the study found.  —  Jessica Holdman, The Post and Courier

More apartments coming to BullStreet with help of new tax break

A project to build about 260 apartments has been proposed to add to the growth at the BullStreet District, the former Department of Mental Health site that is being redeveloped near Columbia’s downtown. Key to the project: Getting approval for a tax break from the city and Richland County. On Nov. 5 the Richland County Council gave preliminary approval to allowing the apartment project to use its latest tax break but not without concern from some members. The tax break, set up earlier this year in a joint city-county effort, gives developers up to a 50 percent property tax break for up to 10 years on large commercial and residential projects that exceed $30 million in exchange for building public infrastructure such as a garage or walkway as part of their project.  The apartments, a project of Proffitt Dixon Partners of Charlotte, would feature a four-level garage offering 345 parking spaces, including 74 that would be available to the public. The total value of the project is $50 million, according to the tax break application. The construction could start in early 2020, according to Bob McAlister of McAlister Communications, which has represented Hughes Development on BullStreet announcements.  — Mike Fitts, The Post and Courier

Gamecocks fall to App State; Clemson crushes NC State

The University of South Carolina football team fell 20-15 to Appalachian State on Nov. 9 at Williams-Brice Stadium, a loss that dealt a crushing blow to the Gamecocks’ chances to make a bowl game. South Carolina fell to 4-6 with the loss, with only a Nov. 16 game at Texas A&M and a Nov. 30 home game against powerful Clemson remaining. The Gamecocks managed to lose to the Mountaineers despite outgaining them in total yards by a margin of 346 to 202. South Carolina was severely hampered by quarterback Ryan Hilinksi’s second quarter interception that App State’s Nicholas Ross returned 20 yards for a touchdown. The Gamecocks squandered another good game from senior wide receiver Bryan Edwards, who had nine catches for 90 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, No. 3 Clemson mauled NC State 55-10 on Nov. 9. The Tigers are now 10-0 on the year and will host Wake Forest on Nov. 16. — Chris Trainor

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