Gamecock fans go to home football games to do two things: Tailgate and watch football.
But tailgating doesn’t have to restrict you to an area a few feet around the trunk of your car.
And with a night game, there is lots of pre-game time to fill.
Carolina fans are ready to welcome the Gamecocks home on Saturday, Sept. 16, for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff against Kentucky. After two away games to start the season, fans are ready to fill Williams-Brice Stadium.
But before fans start doing their “Sandstorm” thing, they will be hanging out around the stadium for hours before kickoff.
Here are five things you can do to get your team spirit pumping.
Game day at the University of South Carolina isn’t complete without a stop at Gamecock Park.
The grassy area across from Williams-Brice on Bluff Road is a pre-game party for Gamecock fans. There are inflatables for kids and games for folks of all ages.
There are vendors with giveaways, live music and occasional special visitors.
For example, the National Champion USC women’s basketball team is scheduled to be there before the Vanderbilt game on Saturday, Oct. 28.
Gamecock Park also includes a popular tailgating area. There is a central open space called Garnet Way, a grassy promenade lined with scarlet oaks. Two hours and 15 minutes before home games, the football team, marching band and cheerleaders walk along Garnet Way on the way to the stadium.
It’s a great way to get into your game groove.
If you’re at Williams-Brice early enough – and really, why wouldn’t you be? – you can take yourself on a tour of the three craft breweries within walking distance of the stadium.
Swamp Cabbage and Conquest are beyond the west stands of the stadium. River Rat is on Shop Road, beyond the east stands.
The Loose Cockaboose
If you prefer drinking your pre-game libations the old-fashioned way – at a bar – be sure to stop by The Loose Cockaboose, or as regulars fondly call it, TLC.
The Loose Cockaboose is about to begin its third football season in the midst of Williams-Brice Stadium’s game day madness.
It fits in well.
The festive pre-game party is a game day hot spot, with live music and various activities.
Take a walk
Activity surrounds Williams-Brice Stadium on game day, making it one of South Carolina’s most populated “cities” about seven days a year.
So take a walk and soak it all in. Walk past the Cockabooses and the various tailgating spots. Browse at the vendor tents set up around the stadium. Enjoy the new pedestrian walkway on Bluff Road. And don’t forget Gamecock Park.
Get to your seats early
Of course the reason you’re there is to watch your Gamecocks play football. So get to your seats an hour before kickoff and watch USC go through warmups.
Then you’ll be sure to be there will the team runs onto the field to “2001.” That, you definitely don’t want to miss.
Lezlie Patterson, Special to Go Columbia
If you go
South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Kentucky Wildcats
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16.
WHERE: Williams-Brice Stadium, 1125 George Rogers Blvd.
TICKETS: Starting at $48 at ticketmaster.com.
ON TV: SEC Network.