Williams-Brice the most intimidating, Muschamp declares
South Carolina’s athletic department moved one step closer Monday to spending $22.5 million to renovate Williams-Brice Stadium, and it is probably just the start of the money that eventually will be spent on the Gamecocks’ football team’s home turf.
“This may be the beginning of changes at Williams-Brice,” athletics director Ray Tanner said.
The university’s board of trustees gave Phase II approval to the $22.5 million project, which was first unveiled in September, at a Monday meeting.
The jewel of the project is the 2001 Club, which will offer a field level view of the Gamecocks entering the playing field on Saturdays through a glass corridor. The setup will be similar to the Dallas Cowboys’ entrance at AT&T Stadium. Other renovations meant to boost South Carolina’s recruiting efforts will be made to the first floor of the Crews Building.
“You add (the new football operations building) to what this project does for recruiting on game day, and we are light years ahead of where we were just three years ago when I started,” head coach Will Muschamp said.
The renovations are scheduled to begin as soon as the 2019 home schedule is complete and be ready in time for the 2020 season.
“It’s an ambitious project in a short amount of time,” Tanner said.
The project at Williams-Brice also includes the addition of 9,000 square feet of air-conditioned club space on the west side behind sections 101-105, 21,000 square feet of renovated area on the 400 level of the east side that will include new restrooms and concessions and renovated club area of fans seated in sections 11-13 on the south side.
“You have to be a draw,” Tanner said. “Winning games still counts, but you also have to provide experiences and amenities that people didn’t have 25 years ago. Times are changing and we are changing with them. We will continue to try to make improvements to the patron experience.”
South Carolina already has commissioned a long-range study for future improvements to the stadium with Legends, a planning, sales and hospitality company. The company has participated in the planning of the upcoming changes so that they will fit into a larger projects down the road, Tanner said.
“A large part of why this project looks the way it does is because coach Tanner pushed the design team to make sure that anything we do in 2020 will be a sustainable investment,” USC chief operating officer Kevin O’Connell said. “If we want to add suites to the east side or a new concourse for the upper deck down the road, this project allows us to entertain those projects without the risk of coming back in and ripping out the work we’ve just done.”
The seating capacity of Williams-Brice Stadium, which is listed as 80,250, will be only slightly affected by the changes. Fans whose seats will be affected by the changes will be notified in the “near future” about what change they can expect in ticket prices.
“The price points are going to be very reasonable,” Tanner said.