[Paleopsych] NYT: Second-Home Buyers Head Back to School
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Fri Jan 28 16:15:51 UTC 2005
Second-Home Buyers Head Back to School
NYT December 24, 2004
By SETH KUGEL
[Studies about relationship between football victories and alumni
contributions give highly mixed results, most of them negative.]
FOR the average American second-home seeker, "just steps
from Death Valley" is not the most alluring of come-ons.
But at the Tiger Walk Condominiums, that was the amenity
that helped sell all of the 12 $270,000-plus units before
construction was finished.
The Death Valley in question is the football stadium at
Clemson University in South Carolina, where alumni wearing
orange and black return religiously for home games,
tailgate parties and reunions with friends and relatives.
"It's almost like a family reunion six times a year," said
Tom Winkopp, the developer of Tiger Walk and several other
complexes aimed at alumni. "They think this is a decent
investment anyway, and they're already coming up for
Another of Mr. Winkopp's developments in Clemson, Tory
Pointe, opened just in time for the final game of the
season, against the Tigers' archrival, South Carolina. Ed
Norris came up from his home in Pawleys Island, S.C., to
close on the place on Wednesday, and his family spent the
long weekend shopping for housewares and enjoying tailgate
parties. The Norrises had been frustrated by inflated
prices at local motels when they made the five-hour drive
to Clemson. "Every time we came back," he said, "it was
like, `It would be nice to have somewhere close by.' "
The Tory Pointe condo was the Norrises' second Clemson real
estate purchase: four years ago, they bought a "condominium
parking space," a permanent slab of asphalt where they
could park their car and tailgate at will. It cost $12,000,
plus $150 a year in property taxes. Mr. Norris said
neighboring spaces are now going for over $20,000.
Clemson isn't alone. Across the Southeast, around colleges
like Virginia Tech in Blacksburg; the University of Georgia
in Athens; and Auburn University in Auburn, Ala., sales of
second homes specifically for football weekends are
booming, even though many owners use them only a few
weekends a year, real estate agents said. "It's not been
real common until recently," said Monica Zielinski, the
agent in charge at Carolina Real Estate on College Avenue
in Clemson. "We have such a strong alumni that for years
they want to come back to Clemson. I've never seen anything
The temptation to buy can be particularly strong when
family ties come into play. John and Susan Weathers used to
make three-hour day trips to Auburn football games from
Albertville, Ala., but last year bought a $50,000
condominium in a student-inhabited area of town when, not
coincidentally, their daughter Anna started school there.
But the place is not for her. "It helped my wife get
through the transition of losing her," Mr. Weathers said.
They had been concerned about party-minded neighbors, but
that has not been a problem.
On Saturdays, the Weatherses tailgate at a relative's motor
home (also in town for the weekend), downing casseroles,
ribs and a special drink called the Tipsy Tiger, a rusty
orange-colored concoction of vodka and fruit juices. "It's
just a great day whether you win or lose," said Mr.
Weathers. Easy for him to say - Auburn is undefeated this
year and is playing in the Nokia Sugar Bowl next Monday,
though Mr. Weathers , like many fans, thought they'd earned
a berth in the Orange Bowl.
Real estate agents in other regions of the country say that
they have seen nothing resembling the Southeastern trend
but that football homes are not unheard of. Six years ago,
Dan Lee, Notre Dame class of 1974 and a real estate agent
in Madison, Wis., bought a condominium in South Bend, Ind.
His son was going to Notre Dame, but once again, the place
wasn't for him. "We aren't that stupid," Mr. Lee said. The
Lees typically use the condo during football season and
rent it out, often to a visiting professor, for the spring
Gameday Centers Southeastern L.L.C., an Atlanta-based
developer, picked up on the trend in 1998 and has since
sold nearly 500 condominiums in college football
communities across the Southeast, Gameday's president, Gary
B. Spillers, said. His fully furnished developments take
team loyalty to an extreme: they are decorated in school
colors, often with special touches like rugs with football
yardlines marked on them. Depending on size and amenities,
the condos sell from $140,000 to $1 million.
Mr. Spillers is optimistic that the idea will work
nationwide and said that he was planning developments from
Penn State to Texas A&M. "I can guarantee you the people in
the Midwestern states, Southwestern states, Northwestern
states are just as passionate about their football and
their sports," he said.
Perhaps, but don't tell that to Joe Barnes, a 72-year-old
widower who goes by the nickname Bama Joe and has an accent
to match. For decades, he had been driving the 300 miles
from his home in Pensacola, Fla., to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for
football games and the occasional basketball game at his
alma mater, the University of Alabama. Four years ago, he
bought a 700-square-foot Gameday Centers unit for about
"It was just the ideal thing for me," he said. "I used to
stay in hotels all the time. It was such a hassle; you
couldn't find rooms." Now, he drives up on Thursdays, hangs
out on campus, goes to tailgate parties and heads to the
game, just a block and a half from his condo. "You can stay
till the game is over, then you can enjoy your friends and
have a good hollering after the game," he said. The
after-game party at his condominium often includes slabs of
hickory-smoked ribs from Dreamland Ribs, a local
In the last four years, sports weekends have developed into
a year-round habit for Mr. Barnes, who has cultivated a
growing taste for Crimson Tide basketball, baseball, even
gymnastics. Or, perhaps, for the ribs.
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