Williams-Brice Stadium, home of the University of South Carolina Fighting Gamecocks, is located approximately three miles from the heart of the university campus in downtown Columbia. Even though the stadium is located off campus, it strikes an imposing figure on the skyline and is visible from many parts of the university property. Located at the southern boundary of the state fairground site, the stadium rises up in visually stunning fashion from the flat expanse surrounding the facility.
First constructed in 1934 as part of a Works Progress Administration project, the stadium seated 17,600 and was known as Carolina Stadium. Subsequent expansions increased capacity, with one of the largest expansions occurring in 1971-72 from a bequest from the estate of Martha Williams Brice, which increased capacity from 43,000 to more than 54,000. The stadium name was changed to Williams-Brice Stadium in 1972 to honor this gift.
The latest expansions have taken the official capacity of the stadium to 80,250, although as many as 85,000 have crowded into the facility to see a game. The stadium is currently the 20th largest college football venue in the NCAA. A Carolina home game transforms Williams-Brice Stadium into the fourth largest "city" in South Carolina.
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Typical stadium fare is found at Williams-Brice, with hotdogs, hamburgers, barbecue, and even Thai food found on the concourses. The quantity is good and prices are reasonable. Soft drinks, water, and Power Ade are available. No alcoholic beverages are sold at the stadium.
The atmosphere on game day is incredible, starting with the activities that occur outside the stadium. The vast expanse of parking on the fairgrounds, the State Farmer's Market and other areas lends itself to tailgating. Carolina fans have taken game day tailgating to an art form. RV's with satellite television are common sights in the parking area.
Games of interest are heard on numerous radios throughout the parking areas. One can see the passion for college football on game day just walking around the various tailgating gatherings. The tailgating army cooks an array of foods and the smells wafting over the various parking areas are amazing. Fans arrive early to eat, toss around footballs, and get their game faces ready. This is a college game day atmosphere, and many fans that come to the games make it an all-day event.
The stadium is an impressive edifice from the outside and has great aesthetics on the inside. Lower bowl seats are painted garnet to match the home team's colors. Sight lines in the stadium are good, even for fans tucked into the corners of the lower bowl. The upper deck seats provide an excellent view of the field, and though removed from the field itself, still provide a close feel for the action below.
Ingress and egress at the stadium is excellent with wide gates and concourses. Access to club levels and the upper decks is on wide, spiral walkways. The lower bowl provides bench seating with backs on the seats. As with many college stadiums, the width of a seat has been compressed to allow for more seats per row, and fans are going to get to know their neighbor pretty well by the time the night is over.
As mentioned, the stadium is located at the southern edge of the state fairgrounds site. The area around the stadium consists of the State of South Carolina Farmer's market, located across the street, and numerous businesses. The football practice facility is also located across the street from the stadium.
There are four major condominium projects that have been built within a close proximity to the stadium that have been sold to fans that come in to town for the games as well as to some full time residents. South Carolina also has the famous "Cockabooses"- 20 refurbished railroad caboose cars that sit on an unused rail spur beside the stadium. These cars have been turned into fully appointed luxury condos that are used extensively during the football season.
The attraction to the area is the stadium. There are very limited dining and entertainment options within a close proximity to the stadium. The closest are around the campus, which is three miles away.
The festive atmosphere that was evident in the tailgating activities before the game shifts in intensity once inside the stadium. Fans of the University of South Carolina are known as some of the loudest fans in the nation, and they rarely disappoint when the Gamecocks are on the field. The football team takes the field to the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey, an entrance that the Sporting News called the "most exciting pre-game entry in college football" This sets the Gamecock faithful into a frenzy that usually doesn't end until the final whistle. Numerous familiar and organized cheers are led by the Carolina cheerleaders.
Fans are loud, and their enthusiasm is encouraged by the 300 member Mighty Sound of the Southeast Band and a state of the art sound system that was installed in 2008. The fans have been known to get so enthusiastic and loud that the upper decks of the stadium sway and vibrate. This caused the late Joe Morrison, when he was the head Coach of the Gamecocks to say, "If it ain't swayin', we ain't playin'."
The stadium has a fireworks display after every touchdown, and shows instant replays of significant plays on a state of the art video scoreboard located in the north end zone.
Being located off the main campus property provides for ample parking at the state fairgrounds site. Spaces closest to the stadium are reserved for athletic department donors. There is ample parking around the stadium in many of the business lots that are opened on game day. Prices range from $5 to $20 relative to the proximity to the stadium. Additionally, there is a significant amount of parking at the South Carolina Farmers Market, across the street from the stadium.
Ingress and egress to the stadium are very good. City and state law enforcement personnel direct traffic into and out of the stadium area over several major traffic routes, and traffic control is exemplary. The six lane George Rogers Blvd is the main route from the campus and the downtown Columbia area. All six lanes are routed in to the stadium area prior to the game, and the process is reversed once the game is over. Additionally, Bluff Rd. provides a five lane access to and from I-77, approximately four miles from the stadium. There are numerous shuttles that run from various lots to a drop off point at the entrance to Fairgrounds before the game. These shuttles run after the game and numerous fans use them to avoid driving in the game day traffic.
The school instituted a "Yearly Equitable Seating" program for all season ticket holders- essentially a PSL arrangement whereby season ticket holders pay for the right to buy their tickets. Funds from this program are being used to upgrade facilities. The regular season ticket prices are very reasonable, and the YES program has brought the cost of a season ticket to a Carolina football game to parity with most of the peer institutions in the Southeastern Conference.
For a fan of college football, the cost is reasonable for tickets at South Carolina. The experience is priceless.
No bonus points awarded.
One of the loudest stadiums in college football and arguably, one of the best student sections as well. Future additions to the stadium will include adding more seats to the North Endzone. The old farmers market is also getting an overhaul and will be turned into a tailgating venue similar to "The Grove" at Ole Miss.
I sat in the student section (even though I am admittedly not a student nor was I ever) and therefore was treated to a different experience than someone who visits anywhere else in the stadium. I have considerable experience with SEC stadiums and this one holds it's weight with some of the best. Access was pretty difficult as it's far from pretty much everything.
While South Carolina doesn't have the same history like its SEC counterparts, they are starting to create a good bit of history under the Steve Spurrier Era. 3 straight 10 win seasons and now one of the the toughest teams in not just the conference but the nation. Williams-Brice is a stadium that is a true homefield advantage when the fan base is rocking (or a swayin). Alabama lost there, ending their win streak back in 10. Rival Georgia has gotten crushed there a few times, as it has become mostly their lone blemish to their schedule as of late.
The place has a great feel and something you really can't compare, but it is an overall mixed bag.
FOOD: Some variety such as bbq sandwiches and boiled peanuts. But nothing out of the ordinary, similar to the taste of the food. Nothing great.
ATMOSPHERE: It could be Georgia coming in, Florida coming in, Clemson coming in, or it could be UAB coming in. The place gets packed and quickly. And it is loud the ENTIRE GAME. Most intense atmosphere I've seen.
NEIGHBORHOOD: On the faigrounds. And yes there are things for the casual fan to see, but besides that, there's absolutely nothing around.
FANS: Goes with atmosphere. They are into every game, and it doesn't matter who they are playing. They have a deep knowledge of the game as well as being very friendly.
ACCESS: Well, getting there isn't the problem. But parking is hard if you aren't a season ticket holder/donor. You can park off of stores along the highway, but it is brutal and alarming given the fact you're walking near cars driving 50-60 mph right next to you. After the game is rough as you can only go one way out. Very challenging.
ROI: You will get a true experience of a college football GAME, but not much else. But I guess that's all that matters.
EXTRAS: I liked the 2001 song to the intros and Sandstorm as many say that South Carolina was the one who started that fad. It adds in to the whole homefield advantage.
1400 Main St
Columbia, SC 29201