Students are returning to the University of South Carolina this month to see familiar friends, beloved campus spots and favorite bars and restaurants.
But they’ll also find a few new things since they left for the summer.
New sights blend in with buildings that have graced USC’s campus since 1801. New places to eat mingle with restaurants current students’ parents ate at when they were at Carolina.
Or in the case of Groucho’s, grandparents.
Here are a few new things students will find as they return for the 2017-18 school year:
So this isn’t totally new – it was finished before the Gamecocks’ big basketball season was complete. But this will be the first year the plaza greets students for the fall.
Sitting in front of the Colonial Life Arena at Lincoln and Greene streets, the raised plaza features more than 120 trees. It is the centerpiece of a mile-long corridor that offers new opportunity for business and residential development in the fast-growing downtown district.
Funded by the Richland County Penny program, the project converted Greene Street to a three-lane roadway with sidewalks and dedicated bike lanes from Assembly Street to Gadsden Street.
In short, the intersection and area in front of Colonial Life Arena looks spiffier than before.
There will be some new banners in the Colonial Life Arena to commemorate the successes of the Gamecock basketball teams this past season.
At a home game to be announced, the USC Women’s basketball team will raise its NCAA National Championship banner in the rafters of the arena.
But there’s more.
The USC Women’s basketball team also will raise two more banners – for the SEC Regular-Season Championship and SEC Tournament Championship.
The Gamecock men’s basketball team will raise a Final Four banner.
The USC Women’s attendance banner, just inside the main entrance of the arena, also will be updated as its fans again led the nation in average attendance – for the third year straight.
That’s definitely a lot of new decorations to adorn the arena.
While we’re at the Colonial Life Arena…
The home of Gamecock basketball has a new video board hanging over the court. It has screens across all four sides, a change from the old one with screens inside a larger, more standard scoreboard.
According to Daktronics, the new video board will feature “four convex-curved main displays with tight 4-millimeter line spacing to bring excellent image clarity and contrast to fans throughout the venue.”
Each side of the video board will measure roughly 12 feet high by 20 feet wide and will be capable of showing one large image or multiple zones. Those zones can show any combination of live video, instant replays, statistics and game information, graphics and animations, and sponsorship messages.
A 360-degree ribbon display will be installed above the arena’s suites and below the upper bowl.
The old scoreboard had been in place since 2002.
“This will make a tremendous positive impact on our men’s and women’s basketball programs by enhancing the game-day experience for our fans,” USC Athletics Director Ray Tanner said in a statement.
DJ at Williams-Brice Stadium
“Sandstorm” won’t be the only thing making students jam at home football games this season.
There will be a live DJ in the stadium for pregame and in-game entertainment. USC marketing director Eric Nichols, the school’s senior associate athletics director for marketing and branding, said the DJ will play pregame and anytime during a timeout when the band is not playing.
“Our music wasn’t where it needed to be,” Nichols said. “It just wasn’t resonating with any segment of the fan base. It needed a refresh. The new DJ will provide that refresh.
“Everyone’s pulling the same direction that recruiting is our No. 1 focus. With that being the direction, it’s a natural fit.”
The DJ also could interject music between plays, although not all of the details have been decided , Nichols said.
The DJ will select the music, which will be approved by school officials and all songs will be “clean and edited versions,” Nichols said. The DJ will perform from a stand near Section 10, above the tunnel where the Gamecocks enter and exit the field.
Among other game-day changes:
USC will add more fireworks and increase and improve the “hype videos” shown on the school’s scoreboard. Justin King, who was hired in February for a newly created position – associate athletics director for new and creative media – has been charged with re-editing the school’s traditional pregame videos and creating additional videos to be played in-game.
New law school building
USC has a new $80 million law school building – a swanky, 187,500-square-foot facility that occupies nearly an entire city block at Bull and Gervais streets.
The building features 17 classrooms, ranging in size from 20 to 95 seats, and two realistic courtrooms, including one that also can be used as a 300-seat auditorium.
The judge’s bench in the larger courtroom is the original heart-pine S.C. Supreme Court bench from the 1870s.
New student health center
The university’s new student health center offers enhanced health and wellness services complete with state-of-the-art technology in one centralized campus location.
The new 68,000-square-foot building is adjacent to the existing Thomson Student Health Center. The facility incorporates modern design elements and advanced technology to deliver what is described as a comfortable and holistic care experience. The new facility allows the center to provide expanded physical therapy, lab and X-ray services, counseling and psychiatric care, as well as a new eye care center.