Court: Gamecock fan family can continue fight for free parking

ashain@thestate.comJuly 7, 2011 

A family of South Carolina football supporters won a court ruling that allows them to continue their fight for free parking at Williams-Brice Stadium after giving the school $140,000 for lifetime Silver Spur memberships in the Gamecock Club.

The decision by the three-judge S.C. Court of Appeals will not mean free parking for the club's lifetime Silver Spur members at this time, said Luanne Lawrence, USC's vice president for communications. But the case brought by Harvey Rosen of Columbia, along with his son and daughter, can be heard in Richland County court.

The Rosens sued USC in 2007 after the school tried to charge them $595 a year each for three parking spots next to the stadium that were free for 20 years.

The family said they were told when they agreed to become lifetime members in 1987 that they would not have to pay for parking, said Harvey Rosen’s son, Joe. But the school — as part of a wide-ranging effort to raise more money to improve facilities — started charging for parking around the stadium four years ago.

Richland County Judge Joseph Strickland dismissed the Rosens' case in 2009 after ruling USC did not breach the written contract because it did not promise that parking would be free. The Rosen family appealed.

Last month, the S.C. Court of Appeals reversed Strickland's ruling, saying the language in the Rosens' agreement with the school was open to interpretation. The court said the case could go to trial. USC has no plans to appeal the latest ruling, Lawrence said.

Joe Rosen, a Columbia real estate appraiser, said the episode “hasn’t left a good taste in my mouth.” He has no plans to get season tickets this season.

His family has reduced its season-ticket purchases from 24 in 2007 to 10 this season — much of it the result of new annual fees on tickets. Athletics department leaders have said USC needs to raise more money to compete with more modern facilities at other SEC schools.

But there’s a problem from Rosen’s point of view. “They’re driving away a lot of old-time fans,” he said.

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