Originally created 02/26/03

Bill would block University of South Carolina hotel



COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The president pro tem of the state Senate has introduced a bill to block the University of South Carolina's private foundation from opening a hotel on campus.

The measure by Sen. Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston, would prevent any of the state's colleges or their private fund-raising wings from opening hotels.

A similar bill is expected to be introduced in the House this week.

The bill would not apply to existing university hotels, like Clemson University's Martin Inn.

The bill is aimed at USC, but it is a "line in the sand" for other schools who may consider developing hotels that compete with private ones, McConnell said.

"We've got tight budget times, and they're raising fees on students. Now they're spreading their mission to hotels? That doesn't make any sense," McConnell said.

USC's Development Foundation planned a 125-room hotel for visitors to the National Advocacy Center and university guests.

The USC plan was criticized by residents who wanted to preserve two existing buildings at the site. Columbia later designated them local historical landmarks, preventing the university from tearing them down.

Local hotel operators complain a USC-owned hotel would give the school an unfair competitive advantage.