Drivers are no strangers to near gridlock around Williams-Brice Stadium during University of South Carolina football home games.
But this Saturday, there’s that nearly annual convergence of football – in this case, a 4 p.m. USC-Vanderbilt game – along with the first Saturday night of the 2015 S.C. State Fair.
The fair drew 35,686 patrons on its first day Wednesday – short of last year’s record of 41,022 visitors on opening day. But those kinds of numbers, combined with up to 80,250 potential attendees at Williams-Brice Stadium, could add up to enough road congestion to ruffle even the most patient Gamecock feathers.
“We anticipate traffic delays around the stadium and fairgrounds,” said Jim Petrus, USC’s director of Parking Services. “We encourage all fans to arrive as early as possible on Saturday to help alleviate the heavy traffic congestion that will occur closer to game time.”
The S.C. Highway Patrol will not be changing its gameday traffic plan – meaning, inbound lane reversals heading toward the stadium could begin as early as noon, though it could be later depending on how traffic is flowing at that time. Outbound lane reversals will begin after the game.
Here’s what drivers need to know:
Hours: The fair’s hours of operation Saturday are 10 a.m.-10 p.m. The game kicks off at 4 p.m.
Shuttles: Gameday shuttles will operate as normal – three hours prior to the game and operate until one hour after the game. The round-trip fare is $3 per rider, free for USC students with a valid ID. Pick-ups are from Colonial Life Arena/Coliseum Lot B, Blowfish Stadium and USC’s Russell House. Dropoff is on Rosewood, east of the Main Gate to the fairgrounds. Buses run about every 20 minutes. Fair-goers can use the shuttle for the same price. Find out more info here: http://www.sc.edu/vmps/gameday.html#football\
Parking lots: Gamecock Club reserved parking at the S.C. State Fairgrounds will not be honored for this week’s game. The fairgrounds parking lot, which will open at 9:30 a.m., will cost $5 per vehicle with spots available on a first-come, first-served basis. Gates 6 and 10 are entrances only and Gates 7, 8 and 9 are exits only. No tents and chairs allowed, and drive area must be kept free of obstructions, although tailgating out of vehicle trunks is permitted.
Gamecock Park will open at 10 a.m. with about 200 gameday parking spaces available for $40, cash only. Those wishing to park in this area should enter off National Guard Road.
Armory and East Stadium Lots A, B, C and D will open at 11 a.m.
The Capital City Stadium lot will open at 2 p.m. Friday for RV parking, then again at 9 a.m. Saturday.
Getting into the fair: Fans with an unused – yes, unused – football ticket can enter the fair for free until 3 p.m. There is no free fair entry following the football game.
Armchair fans: Skipping out on a trip to the game? It will be televised on the SEC Network with Dave Neal and Matt Stinchcomb in the booth, and Kayce Smith on the sidelines.