Judge allows suit over Gamecock football parking spaces to go fo - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Judge allows suit over Gamecock football parking spaces to go forward

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

A state court judge has denied a motion by the University of South Carolina to dismiss a lawsuit brought by five Gamecock supporters relating to reassignment of parking spaces for the 2012 football season.

The suit claims that promises made about parking spaces decades ago are no longer being kept.

Judge George C. James ruled the complaint adequately set forth a cause of action and the plaintiffs were entitled to go forward with the lawsuit.

"We are very pleased that the judge denied the motion by the Gamecock Club and university to dismiss out clients' claims," said attorney Julius W. Babb, IV, who represents the plaintiffs "Our clients look forward to going forward and protecting a valued right which either they or their family member secured for them by spending large sums of money to support their Gamecocks at a time when the football program was really struggling. It is not fair for their priority parking to now be pushed down the line."

A parking spot next to the Cockabooses has been in Bubba Hope's family for the last 26 years.

"It's extremely close to the stadium," Hope said. "You don't have to walk far when the crowds come into the stadium. You see everyone you know. It's just a festive atmosphere."

In May of 1986, Hope's father paid $25,000 to become a lifetime member of the Gamecock Club and got a variety of perks, including that space.

"Over time, our rights have been eroded to a point we just can't stand it anymore," Hope said.

The membership used to include free assigned parking, first priority for football, basketball, baseball tickets and bowl games. Now, Hope says they have to pay a fee for many of those perks. That's why his family is suing the club.

"They've taken us from being the top dogs to saying, 'Well, you're not top dog anymore,'" Hope said.

Lifetime membership was only offered from the mid-80's to the early 90's. Now there are different tiers of membership and Hope says some of the newer donors are getting priority over what he was promised

"We put up the money in good faith in 1986 and we want them to honor this contract."

Hope says things changed in 2007 when the club started charging for parking spaces and seats and he says he lost his priority.

"You can't arbitrarily decide, we're not going to honor that contract. They've already had a great deal. Let's just do what we want to and that's what the university is doing," said Hope.

Hope's father passed away earlier this year and left the membership to his family. Hope says it's not really about a parking space or tickets -- it's about making lifetime benefits last a lifetime.

"We support the university and always have," Hope said. "We love the football, basketball and we love being a part of Gamecock nation."

The Gamecock Club would not comment on record about the lawsuit.

A separate lawsuit was recently settled over a similar parking issue and there are several pending lawsuits against the Gamecock Club.

Copyright 2012 WIS. All rights reserved.

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