Williams-Brice Stadium will look a little different this fall, with renovations currently being made to the venue ahead of the 2022 football season.
The stadium’s most recent round of renovations includes new lighting and sound systems, ribbon boards, patio spaces and elevators. These improvements will cost an estimated $11 million, according to executive associate athletic director for administration Chris Rogers.
In this role, Rogers is responsible for overseeing many departments such as event management, facilities services and information technology, as well as being very involved in the management of several athletics planning initiatives, including strategic planning and special projects, capital projects and budget and policy development.
Rogers said the ultimate goal of the project is to improve fans’ experiences on game day.
“At the end of the day … is it going to make an impact with our fans to make it more enjoyable to come to Williams-Brice? That’s the bottom line.” Rogers said.
While some of the renovations were formally approved by the university's board of trustees in October 2021, Rogers said plans for the project had been discussed well in advance of its approval.
“We’re obviously always looking for ways to improve fan experience, so all of these (renovations) have been conversations that have been ongoing for some time,” Rogers said.
One such improvement is the installation of LED lights, which can change colors and sync to music. Rogers said the new lighting system will also improve the quality of television broadcasts due to the lights’ higher levels of brightness.
Additional ribbon boards — some of which are completely new, while others are replacements for old boards —will be wrapped around the field to provide fans with an interactive visual experience. A new distributed audio system will cater to their auditory experience by allowing sound to filter around the stadium through multiple locations as opposed to only one.
“What we currently have is an audio system that plays only out of the end zone. So in terms of improving the fan experience, there is no question that having a distributed system is preferable to what we currently have in place,” Rogers said.
Outside the stadium’s general seating area, two elevators will be added to the stadium’s west side to provide fans with a more efficient way to reach their seats.
In addition, nearly 7,000 square feet of space will be added to the west main concourse to increase points of sale and decrease fans’ waiting times in concession lines. Much of this space will be devoted to a new patio area connected to the concourse, and the rest will be used for additional concessions.
South Carolina football fan Robert Turner said the patio will enhance the social aspect of watching college football.
“I could see where the patio will also add even more of a community-type feeling to it because (Williams-Brice) already feels like a community atmosphere,” Turner said.
For Brandon Fowler, host of the “Talk Cocky With Me” podcast, these changes represent a shift in the athletic department’s efforts towards accommodating the general fan.
“I think the regular fan has felt a little left out with most of the renovation that’s gone on in the last couple years — they added the 2001 Club, all the new club seating and everything," Fowler said. "I think the new renovations are good because … it’s something that everyone can enjoy instead of just the elite donors.”
Fowler said the stadium’s newest additions are beyond what most fans would have expected decades ago and is looking forward to the new, modified stadium environment.
“If you would have came to anyone in the late 90s and said, ‘Hey, in a few years, you’re going to have a screen bigger than most schools in the nation, speakers around, lights that flashed to the music, a live DJ and all this,’ they would be like, ‘Yeah, no, that’s not happening,’” Fowler said. “Where we are right now is lightyears compared to what it was in the 90s, so it’s going to be interesting.”