South Carolina officials are prepared to replace the entire playing field at Williams-Brice Stadium a week before the Gamecocks football team’s season opener if damage caused by next week’s concert requires it.
Husband and wife music superstars Beyoncé and Jay-Z will hold a concert in the stadium Tuesday. In preparation for the show, all the grass at Williams-Brice Stadium has been covered with thick plastic panels. With the panels in place for at least five days, much of the grass is expected to die, Clark Cox, the Gamecocks assistant athletics director for turf and landscaping services, told The State on Thursday.
“When this is all over with and they take that cover up, we will come up and strip the dead grass, anything that is not recoverable, which in this case is probably going to be a pretty large portion if not the entire field, and replace it,” Cox said.
Cox’s team has already planned for that contingency and has an agreement in place with Precision Turf, a company out of Georgia, to start the work next week.
“It’s probably going to be a three- to four-day process, weather dependent,” Cox said. “Assuming everything goes according to plan, we will get started on Thursday and have the field ready to go by the end of the day Sunday (August 26). After that, we will be getting the field ready just like we would normally do as if nothing had happened.”
The Gamecocks play Coastal Carolina on Sept. 1 at Williams-Brice Stadium, which is why the school has placed an order for a type of turf that requires no “grow-in time.”
“The easiest way to explain it is the sheer weight of the sod holds it in place,” Cox said. “It’s a sod that is grown in a particular way that allows us to put the sod down and play on it immediately. It’s a process that has gained popularity over the last couple of years. From a playability standpoint, the field should be ready to go as soon as we put it down.”
The bigger concern when a large concert is held on a football field is that the grade of the field will be affected or irrigation will be damaged, but USC officials will check both of those things before they put down the new sod, Cox said.
After Kenny Chesney held a concert in Williams-Brice Stadium in 2013, the school had to replace “portions” of the field, Cox said.
“That show was in April, so we had a lot more time to turn things around and get things back together,” he said. “This is a little bit different circumstance.”