A lot can change in a year – and our excitement for football season has only grown since last fall.
The year’s first home game is Saturday for the 2-0 South Carolina Gamecocks with the Kentucky Wildcats coming to town.
Here’s a look at some of the changes USC fans will find on and off the field this season.
A NEW ‘2001’
The Gamecocks will debut a new-look “2001” entrance, complete with flames shooting 20 feet in the air and eight Co2 jets generating plumes of “smoke” between 20 to 25 feet long, replacing the need to create that effect with fire extinguishers.
A new live DJ will liven up pre-game and in-game entertainment at the stadium. And live bands will play each week in the Gamecock Park tailgating area.
Expect more fireworks when the Gamecocks score and post-game. Because fireworks rock.
Justin King is taking hype videos to a new level in his new role in USC’s athletic department. Expect even more chill-inducing pre-game and in-game videos to pump up all 80,000-plus Gamecocks in the crowd.
NEW FOR RECRUITS
South Carolina recruits’ gameday gateway into Williams-Brice Stadium has a new look. The entrance for prospective student-athletes near the stadium’s southwest corner has been upgraded with a black backdrop, a “Welcome to Gamecock Country” sign and a photo of USC football great Jadeveon Clowney.
A new Block C logo was added on the exterior of the south end zone, and the “South Carolina Gamecocks” letter above the press box has been replaced. There’s a new Under Armour cover above the home players’ tunnel. And stadium elevators have been redecorated with player photos.
USC’s new food vendor, Aramark, will take over concessions at Williams-Brice Stadium and will introduce some new menu items, USC associate athletics director Eric Nichols said.
Bluff Road beside the S.C. State Fairgrounds has undergone a transformation near Williams-Brice Stadium. The end result is two driving lanes going in either direction, a center turn lane and a generously wide sidewalk on either side, running from Rosewood Drive to George Rogers Boulevard.
The popular Memorial Lot tailgating spot, just off Shop Road, is getting a few upgrades, including at least twice as many bathrooms as last year, a Chick-fil-A food cart nearby and a new entry policy to avoid a bottleneck of people trying to get into the lot.
The State’s Dwayne McLemore contributed
What about the new Gamecock statue?
A massive Gamecock statue the University of South Carolina plans to erect outside Williams-Brice Stadium won’t be installed in time for football season.
The 15- to 18-foot-tall bird is taking longer than expected to cast in bronze and assemble, the university says.
The school had hoped to place the $995,000 statue, paid for with private gifts, on Springs-Brooks Plaza before Saturday’s home opener against Kentucky.
The school now expects to install it just after the season ends.
Avery G. Wilks