Headed to a high school graduation at Colonial Life Arena soon? Bring some cash with you.
Starting in May, families attending high-school graduations at the 18,000-seat arena will have to pay $5 to park at two nearby garages owned by the University of South Carolina’s real estate foundation.
After considering charging a similar fee for its surface parking lots, USC decided late Wednesday against the idea, spokesman Jeff Stensland said.
The new garage fees will not apply to USC’s May graduation ceremonies – only to high school ceremonies.
Colonial Life Arena hosts graduation ceremonies for the Richland 1, Richland 2, Lexington 1 and Lexington-Richland 5 school districts.
Parking previously had been free for those ceremonies.
USC Development Foundation director Russ Meekins says the new fees will help pay off $17 million in mortgages for the Discovery garage on Park Street and the Horizon garage on Main Street.
“I’m not trying to stick it to anybody,” Meekins said. “But we have to make enough money to pay for the parking garages.”
At the request of local school districts, USC was exploring charging for parking at its surface lots, Stensland said. The parking fees would have offset the costs of shuttles and staff, which USC charges to the school districts, Stensland said.
School districts last year bemoaned the cost of hosting their graduations at the arena.
Efforts to reach the four school districts for comment late Wednesday were unsuccessful.