CCU welcomes fans back

The players are equally, if not more, excited to see fans return to Brooks Stadium. Coastal returns to the Surf Turf on Friday, Sept. 18 against Campbell. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Photo by Ian Livingston Brooking

Brooks Stadium will open to fans Friday.

Last week, Coastal Carolina University received approval from the S.C. Department of Commerce to host spectators at home games. The stadium's revised capacity will be 5,000. That’s based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state officials, the NCAA and the Sun Belt Conference. 

“We started looking at what was really feasible when you consider the distancing rule within the stadium,” Coastal Carolina Athletics Director Matt Hogue said. “So we were working around 20 to 25% of the total stadium occupancy number. It really is more of a result of how you have to meet the other guidelines."

The 5,000-attendee maximum includes not only teams and coaching staffs but also stadium staff, media, the marching band, spirit teams, volunteers and spectators. While that does limit the number of actual fans, Chanticleer diehard Bob Snow is excited to even get into Brooks Stadium this fall.

“At this point, we will take what we can get,” he said.

Fans can expect a different look around Brooks as face coverings are required unless someone is eating or drinking. Fans will also be seated in pods of two or four affiliated guests in socially-distanced areas.

“We have established and are following the health and safety protocols and the guidelines concerning a number of areas,” Hogue said. “We have taken a lot into account from concessions to ticketing and even putting up signage to remind everyone of the basic protocols.”

Snow said if he and his family are able to get their hands on tickets this fall, Coastal will see them masked up and in the stands.

“This whole thing didn’t scare me in the first place,” he said. “I knew that we were going to have to wear a mask. I knew that there was going to be specific seating. We went to a high school game a few weeks ago and no one felt scared. I think we are going to be OK.” 

As for students who want to attend games, the university has set aside 1,500 tickets available for the student body. That’s something junior Hayden Bannick appreciates.

“I was hearing that we were going to a lottery system like what you typically see at Clemson, but when I got the email from the university in regards to students claiming their tickets, I was over the moon,” Bannick said.

After the pandemic took away spring sporting events, Bannick is ready to see the Chanticleers return to the field.

“There hasn’t been a lot of sporting events happening in the Grand Strand area since mid-March,” Bannick said. “Baseball and the other spring sports had their seasons cut short. We didn’t have Pelicans baseball. It is pretty exciting to see a live sporting event return here. I don’t care who Coastal is playing. They could be playing Abilene Christian for all I care.”

Students have until 7 p.m. Thursday to claim their tickets. Any tickets not claimed will be redistributed to the general public.

"If we have available tickets, we want those out there and available to someone for purchase and to join us,” Hogue said. "We are going to monitor how some of those reservations go and that will establish and dictate what we can offer."

The players are equally, if not more, excited to see fans return to Brooks Stadium. Senior defensive lineman Tarron Jackson was “incredibly happy” when he heard the news that CCU was allowing thousands of attendees into the stadium for Friday’s matchup.

“I know a lot of teams were not blessed to have fans at their games,” he said. “Us being able to have some fans from the area and having family members up in the stands is going to be big.”

Senior offensive lineman Trey Carter agrees with his teammate, saying his family was worried about not being able to see him play this year. 

“I was pretty excited to see that,” he said. "It’s a blessing for sure. I know the guys are excited about seeing the fans back in the stands. Five thousand is a lot better than zero." 

The Chanticleers are coming off a strong start to the season, defeating Kansas 38-23 on the road this past Saturday.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Grayson McCall played a role in all five touchdowns on the night, throwing for three and running for two. He also had 133 yards in the air on 11 of 18 passing as well as 73 yards on the ground on 11 carries.

The defense played a massive role in Saturday’s win, forcing three turnovers and holding Kansas’ All-Big 12 running back Pooka Williams to 67 yards.

The big win from Saturday has certainly energized fans ahead of the matchup with Campbell on Friday. 

“It adds so much more hype to the game being the first home game of the season after a statement win at Kansas,” Bannick said. “It also gives casual fans a reason to come to a game against an FCS opponent.”

The Chanticleers face Campbell at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. The game will be televised on ESPN.

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