Josh Kendall

South Carolina-Akron crowd could be historically low. USC doing its part to fill seats

South Carolina is hoping for the best when it comes to attendance for Saturday’s home game against Akron, but Gamecocks administrators don’t know exactly what that will look like in terms of fans in seats at Williams-Brice Stadium.

“We really don’t know what to expect,” said Eric Nichols, USC’s senior associate athletics director for marketing. “We have never done this before this late in the season, but we have been pleased with the ticket sales so far.”

The Gamecocks have sold almost 30,000 tickets as of Monday, Nichols said. South Carolina (6-5) is playing the Zips (4-7) as a makeup for the scheduled Sept. 15 game against Marshall, which was canceled due to Hurricane Florence. The school didn’t finalize the new game until early in November, giving fans little time to plan for what otherwise would have been a football-free weekend.

“It’s difficult to gauge what success looks like,” Nichols said.

South Carolina’s lowest announced home attendance this season was No. 17 against Chattanooga, when the official attendance was 72,832. The estimated spring game attendance (where tickets are free) was 25,500. The smallest Gamecocks home attendance since Williams-Brice Stadium was expanded to 54,000 seats in 1972 was against Appalachian State in 1974, when 32,285 fans attended. South Carolina’s home stadium holds 80,250 fans.

South Carolina’s 2015 game against LSU was moved from Williams-Brice Stadium to Baton Rouge, La., due to flooding. The announced attendance for that midseason game was 42,058.

“We are leaning on some community partners to help in some upper deck seating to give (the Gamecocks) the biggest home advantage that they can have,” Nichols said. “I am more excited about giving new people an opportunity to come to the game that haven’t been before.”

Tickets will be given to military organizations, school programs and athletic department sponsors, Nichols said. Season ticket holders had the price of their Marshall tickets refunded and would have to purchase new single-game tickets for the Akron game.

The Zips will get a check for $1.3 million from South Carolina for agreeing to the game. Akron needed a 12th game this season because its season-opener against Nebraska was canceled due to inclement weather.

Tickets to the game cost $50 for the lower level of the stadium and $45 for upper level of the stadium. The Gamecocks were 16th nationally in home attendance last year with 78,586 announced fans per game. They have averaged an announced attendance of 76,996 this year.

Game info

Who: South Carolina (6-5) vs. Akron (4-7)

When: Noon Saturday

Where: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, SC

TV: SEC Network Alternate