George Rogers will have some company on the Springs-Brooks Plaza that surrounds Williams-Brice Stadium.
A 15- to 18-foot-tall bronze Gamecock sculpture is in the works for the area outside South Carolina’s football stadium. USC’s board of trustees on Friday unanimously approved the $995,000 project set for the corner of Bluff Road and George Rogers Boulevard.
The project will be paid for with gifts to the university. USC hopes it will be ready before the 2017 football season begins.
“Its scale will create a dramatic presence,” according to information presented at the meeting.
USC architect Derek Gruner said the school began working on the giant Gamecock earlier this year and had for years had left that area open for a “marquee sculpture or fountain or some element that would be prominent.”
USC received more than a dozen submissions for possible Gamecock sculptures. It paid five artists a stipend to keep developing the ideas before selecting John Hair, who has done sculptures of college mascots at such places at Cincinnati, Furman, Wake Forest and Purdue.
USC chose Hair’s rendering because it looked the most like USC’s two-dimensional Gamecock logo, Gruner said.
“The form, we thought, would be more identifiable to the fans as opposed to some other sculptures that proposed less traditional postures for the Gamecock,” he said.
Hair will next create a 3-D rendering of the sculpture for USC to review. That will give USC a sense of whether the sculpture is too small or too big, Gruner said.
Gruner said he can’t guarantee the project will ready before the football season next year. The sculpture must be cast elsewhere and then shipped to USC in pieces, he said.
“We’re not going to sacrifice the quality of the sculpture just to get it there a month or two sooner,” Gruner said.
Gruner said the statue will be located where a large planter currently sits at the corner of Bluff Road and George Rogers Boulevard, near the statue of Rogers.
Asked if he was concerned about Clemson University fans with spray paint cans, Gruner said: “I don’t think we’ve defaced their stadium. We trust that they would reciprocate and respect our stadium as well.”
There will be cameras and security measures in place, as there are for the George Rogers statue. USC might consider putting up a fence to deter people from trying to access the sculpture, but Gruner said it will be clear that people aren’t supposed to climb on it.