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Official Review by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Supporters of the Coastal Carolina Chanticleer baseball program really have something to crow about, as the team has moved into the new $10.2 million Springs Brooks Stadium. The stadium has seats for 2,500, but will be able to hold up to 6,000 fans once an extensive system of berms down the baseline and a boardwalk spanning the areas behind the outfield walls are completed after the 2015 season. The new roost boasts a three-level layout, with locker rooms on the first level that connect directly to the dugouts, a second level dedicated to a majority of the seats, concession areas and merchandise sales and the top level dedicated to private covered verandas and luxury suites. These changes allow Coastal Carolina to move the NCAA Regionals it has hosted many times back on campus, instead of using the nearby Myrtle Beach Pelicans' minor league stadium. An added bonus to the new construction is the addition of a new indoor training facility.
The Coastal Carolina baseball program has been very successful over the years, taking part in 10 NCAA Regionals, two NCAA Super Regionals and nine Big South Conference Championships. 45 Chanticleer players have been drafted by Major League Baseball over the history of the program. In addition to its conference schedule, Coastal takes on baseball powers including Georgia Tech, FSU, Michigan, Clemson and North Carolina.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There are two concessions stands in the stadium, with a much broader offering of foods than most college parks. Entrées include hot dogs ($3), grilled chicken sandwiches ($6), brats ($6), cheesesteaks ($6.75) and nachos ($4). In addition, they have waffle fries ($5), popcorn ($2), Cracker Jacks ($4), peanuts ($4), chicken tenders ($3) and pretzels ($3). Drink selections are sodas ($2 or $4 depending on size) and water at $2.50. You certainly will not go home hungry from this ballpark!
Springs Brooks Stadium can be very favorably compared with its sister stadium, TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark, in Myrtle Beach. The seating is what you would find in a major league or minor league park, as they have molded plastic seating with cup holders on the back (premium seats behind the plate even have a padded seat, which is easy on your bottom). In addition, the field has several corporate suites on the top level. There is a picnic area on the end of the third base concourse and a covered veranda on top of the stadium along the first base side.
This is a really great place to watch a game on a hot, humid afternoon in South Carolina. The school also utilizes these areas to promote its great baseball pedigree, as pennants line the front facing of the upper levels for each of the Chanticleers' conference championships or NCAA tournament appearances. The audio visual package for this stadium is also above what you typically see in a college stadium. The sound system is close to concert quality, and the scoreboard is entertaining, as well as informative. The whole package has been a huge hit with the fans, and there has been a large increase in attendance thus far.
Springs Brooks Stadium is located on the 620-acre Coastal Carolina campus. More than 9,000 students attend the school, mostly in Liberal Arts Studies. However, Coastal is also well known for its Marine Sciences and Wetland Biology curriculum.
The campus is located in Conway, South Carolina, a suburb of Myrtle Beach, and has a population of 16,000. You are probably going to spend most of your time in Myrtle Beach (see the Myrtle Beach Pelicans stadium review referenced above for a list of things to do on the Strand) but you owe it to yourself to spend at least one evening in Conway. It has a much quieter, more laid-back feel compared to the "Beach."
As far as places to eat and drink, I recommend the Crafty Rooster, a restaurant with a broad menu and great selection of craft beers. For shopping, I suggest the old fashioned PaPa's General Store, which stocks items you probably haven't seen since your childhood. The Blackwater Market on Main Street offers both shopping and dining options in an old historic mansion. For a truly wonderful and peaceful night, the Cypress Inn B&B is hard to beat. It overlooks the Waccamaw River and is located very close to the marina, where you can take a two-hour river cruise or walk on Conway's Riverwalk.
Coastal Carolina fans love their sports, and why not? Both the basketball and baseball teams have a long history of success in the NCAA playoffs. Getting a ticket has not been easy in the past, as the Chanticleers have a large season ticket base between the students and the many retirees in the area. However, with the new stadium, the capacity has been increased threefold. You will also find that the alums and retirees prefer the reserved seats, while the student body gravitates toward the picnic area and the food counters that line the top of the concourse. < /p>
You will hear lots of rooster calls during a rally or when Chauncey the Chanticleer gets up on top of the dugout to lead cheers. (Explanation: Coastal Carolina once was a division of the University of South Carolina... the Gamecocks. When Coastal Carolina gained its independence, it simply crossbred the Gamecock with a teal seabird and it resulted in a Chanticleer)
Coastal Carolina University is located along the Grand Strand area of the South Carolina coast. It is located 15 miles from Myrtle Beach, 95 miles from Charleston, 150 miles from Columbia and 173 miles from Charlotte. The most scenic and direct way to reach the area is US Highway 17, also known as the Coastal Highway. You would then get on Highway 501, which will take you directly to Coastal Carolina University. Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) is served by many airlines and is about 12 miles from the campus.
The large increase in seating exceeds the parking area immediately surrounding the field. To remedy this situation, fans can park for free in the school's commuter student lot and ride a free trolley, which circulates every 15 minutes between the stadium and the commuter lot.
Once you reach Springs Brooks Stadium, you will immediately appreciate that being a new stadium, accessibility is a priority. The leg room is much more comfortable than in most stadiums and the concourse/boardwalk areas are wide enough to prevent gridlock. Elevators run from field level to the top of the stadium, and every section has seating for persons with disabilities on the concourse level.
As you can tell, Coastal Carolina has not cut any corners in constructing this beautiful stadium. However, this does come at a financial cost. The concession offerings are as varied as any college facility I have been to, but the prices are also higher than average. Ticket prices are tiered at $10-$20, which is also higher than most college parks, but most parks do not match the amenities that Springs Brooks has. The parking is free, and you will definitely see some well played baseball when the Chanticleers are at home.
World famous Myrtle Beach is only 15 miles from the campus and offers numerous beach activities, great restaurants and its own Boardwalk. Coastal Carolina is also surrounded by more than a dozen golf courses within a 20-minute drive of the campus, so you can play a round in the morning and make the game in the afternoon. The weather is another great extra, as many teams from the Northeast play their early spring games in Myrtle Beach due to its very temperate climate, and their fans travel well to the area to escape winter's wrath.
Here's a great tour of the new ballpark with coach Gary Gilmore:
Coastal Carolina University is going to be a tough team to recruit against once college prospects see Springs Brooks Stadium. Add to that a great baseball heritage and an excellent academic tradition on a very modern campus with a beach less than 20 miles away, and it's an offer that will be tough to refuse.
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