Williams-Brice Stadium will see a significant decrease in capacity this semester with about 20,000 fans in the stadium, including a "limited number of students," but with no information about ticketing released, students are wondering what that means for their game day experience.
Williams-Brice normally seats 80,000 fans, but the venue will be at about 25% capacity for this season's football games.
“I agree with the capacity rule,” third-year international business and economics student Campbell Smith said. “I think that’ll be a safe way for people to still come and enjoy the game.”
Of the 20,000 fans who are able to attend game days in Williams-Brice, about 15,000 will be season ticket holders, according to the release.
The university has not officially said how many student tickets would be offered or any criteria that would need to be met to get a student ticket.
“They should give some kind of priority to students because you only get four years. You can be a season ticket holder the rest of your life, but you can only stand in the student section for four years,” fourth-year history student Emilie Parsons said.
Third-year visual communications student Aidan Smith said he imagines student tickets will likely be given out based on seniority.
Physical ticketing will also be eliminated this season. The university said all ticket services will be done through the fans’ mobile devices and all tickets will be digitally scanned upon entry into the stadium.
New guidelines have been put into place to accommodate public health guidelines, including required face masks for all those attending the game.
When asked about student attendance and safety, Parsons said she believes students will do a good job of wearing face masks and following social distancing guidelines, since those same guidelines apply on campus and in the classroom.
Changes will also be seen in parking, tailgating and the admission process to ensure social distancing.
“Parking lots operated by the Athletics Department will open two hours and 30 minutes prior to kickoff to help discourage tailgating in these areas. Lots will close 90-minutes after the conclusion of the game, as well. Additionally, the use of tents in these lots will be prohibited, while the use of grills and coolers will also be discouraged,” the release stated.
Along with the new parking changes, fans will be able to enter Williams-Brice two hours before kickoff, allowing plenty of time for entry to help maintain social distancing and to help prevent possible crowding upon the start of the game.
Another important aspect of the Williams-Brice experience is the concession areas. The 20,000 fans who are able to attend will still have this luxury, but, as with many other aspects of the stadium, it has been altered so they can safely operate. For example, concession employees will wear face shields and masks and more “grab and go” options will be made available to prevent unnecessary contact.
Gamecock fans will also notice differences in some game day traditions.
Gamecock Walk, which is the team’s famous entrance into Williams-Brice, will not occur this season. Gamecock Village, however, will still take place but will be spread out to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
One game day tradition that will see no change is the handing out of rally towels prior to the start of the game. Gamecock fans will still be able to get their rally towels to participate in Sandstorm. However, the towels must be picked up in either Gamecock Village or in front of the Bignon Gameday Center.
Students say they anticipate being able to attend the games.
“Definitely would still go to the games,” Campbell Smith said.
The SEC and the university said they are taking the college football season day by day, meaning all guidelines are subject to change.
Currently, the season opener is scheduled for Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. against the Tennessee Volunteers.