A new $6.5 million, high-definition video board at Williams-Brice Stadium should be up a year early – for the 2012 season – but might not be ready for the first games, South Carolina officials said Friday.
The school wants to have the new 36-by-124-foot board ready for the Aug. 31 opener against East Carolina, athletics director Eric Hyman said
But with an accelerated construction schedule, the video board might not be ready. The current 20-by-29-foot board, which many fans say is too small and too hard to see in daylight, would be used in the meantime, executive associate athletics director Kevin O’Connell said
Between faster buying of materials and a favorable schedule of board meetings, Gamecocks athletics officials said they were able to speed the video board’s expected completion date from 2013.
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The USC Board of Trustees gave final approval for the project Friday. The board spanning the north endzone would be the third largest in the SEC. The current board is the third smallest.
Even with USC board approval, the project still faces a few hurdles in the next month, including the State Budget and Control Board. But the project is not expected meet resistance since so much of the video board costs are being paid donors.
About $5.25 million has been donated for the board. The rest of the cost is coming from department revenue, though the school is still seeking additional donations, Hyman said
The new video board comes after the school started requiring football season-ticket holders to pay annual fees of $50-$395 per seat to help pay for building improvements. That’s on top of the $320 price for season tickets
Other stadium improvements include $5.9 million spent on new and renovated club seating to woo big donors and $155,000 for signage featuring retired numbers and team records. The athletics department also is spending $30.5 million to transform the old State Farmers Market into a landscaped 3,000-space parking lot.
Next, USC will make over the apron around Williams-Brice Stadium, using a $4.4 million gift. The school will move cars parked around the stadium next year to the old State Farmers Market site. Pavement around the stadium will be made into walkways with iron gates reminiscent of the Horseshoe. No timetable has been set
In other athletics construction news
• The $1 million Colonial Life Arena locker rooms renovations will not be finished when the Gamecocks tip-off next month. No timetable was given for completion. The locker rooms are being enlarged to 2,100 square feet from 1,750 and fitted with mahogany lockers. In the meantime, the men’s and women’s teams will use other locker rooms in the arena.
• The Board of Trustees gave final OK for a new $8 million softball stadium, which will nearly double seating capacity to 1,350 when its opens for the 2013 season. Revenue bonds are paying for nearly the entire project. USC has reached its $130 million borrowing limit based on current revenues, Hyman said
• The opening of the new $4.5 million tennis center has been delayed until mid-November because some lights were installed in the wrong places. The center was supposed to open in September.