What you need to know before heading to Williams-Brice for the Gamecocks’ season opener
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - As the University of South Carolina Gamecock football team opens its season against Georgia State Saturday, more than 77,000 fans will pack Williams-Brice Stadium.
This sellout crowd is expected to bring a lot of energy and congestion to the capital city.
“The atmosphere is up from where it was the past four to five years and we’re very excited about what’s to come under coach Shane Beamer,” Curtis Jeffcoat, a diehard Gamecock fan, said.
Jeffcoat said he has been attending games at Williams-Brice since he was a child, and believes driving to the game is often the biggest hurdle.
“If you’re not early you could get caught up in some traffic and it makes it tough getting into the game on time,” he said.
The South Carolina Highway Patrol, which will have more than 100 troopers stationed around the stadium on gameday, suggests arriving at least a few hours before kickoff.
“We encourage motorists to make sure you pack your patience,” Trooper David Jones of SC Highway Patrol said. “Bring a little grace with you, know that there’s a lot of visitors that may be their first time coming to Williams-Brice so come early, if you don’t have a parking spot know that these parking facilities fill up pretty quick.”
Most parking lots open up to five hours before game time, Gamecock athletics officials say.
According to Jones, the best route to the game is to take Interstate 77 to Bluff Road.
“There you’ll find more lanes of travel on Bluff, traffic tends to flow a little easier,” he said. “As we all know living in the Midlands, if you come through the city, just now that you’re competing with gameday traffic and also some of the many trains that come through the downtown area.”
The teams typically arrive two hours before kickoff, so traffic could be at a standstill by 5:30 Saturday, Jones said.
Jones also said that fans are urged to celebrate the Gamecocks responsibly.
“If you’re going to have a few drinks, go ahead and plan for a designated driver,” he said. “Three hours of a football game isn’t enough time to sober you up so make sure you have a plan in place.”
Lance Grantham, Senior Associate for Ticketing and Parking with Gamecock Athletics, said there is limited gameday parking space available in both the Woodstock lot and the Gameday lot near the Football Operations Center.
Gamecock Athletics encourages fans to purchase those tickets through Ticketmaster, as the chance of them lasting through gameday are “slim,” Grantham said.
If those spots fill up, officials say there are several private lots up and down Key Road, Bluff Road and Shop Road with gameday parking for anywhere between $30 and $50.
One new change this season is that fans can now get their parking passes digitally through the Gamecock mobile app. If someone purchases a parking pass and cannot make it to the game, that pass can be shared with friends.
Once inside, fans will also be treated to brand new LED lights.
“Where you normally would just have a regular white light that would turn on for the game at night, now they’re LED so they actually shine and can flash on and off and be synced up with music, synced up with Sandstorm, synced up with scoring plays, all that stuff. You’ll see a great, great light show from us if we’re able to score points and hopefully win this game. It’ll be quite an experience for our fans who’ve never had that at our home stadium before.”
Two new elevators have also been added at Williams-Brice, Grantham said. Gamecock Athletics officials say this should help alleviate foot traffic on some of the main elevators on the west side.
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