Coastal Carolina University's soccer teams will play in a new stadium, possibly within two years.
University officials discussed their plans for the $5 million facility during a board of trustees meeting Thursday. The stadium is expected to be finished by the fall of 2023.
“It will bring [the program] up to the next level,” Coastal Chief Financial Officer David Frost said.
Plans call for the stadium to be built across U.S. 501 at the intramural fields next to the Stevens Tennis Complex. It will include amenities that the current facility does not have, such as locker rooms. Today the men's and women's teams utilize tents as makeshift locker rooms on game days.
University leaders see the new stadium as a fitting upgrade for a women’s soccer program that’s had numerous 10-win seasons in the last decade and a men’s team that is consistently ranked in the Top 25 nationally.
“We know we’ve been deficient there … but the amenities for both programs really, for the men and the women, we just haven’t been able to supply,” Coastal Carolina Athletics Director Matt Hogue said.
He noted that the new facility will arrive at a great time for Coastal soccer. While the women’s program plays in a competitive Sun Belt Conference, the men’s team just made the jump to Conference USA — a conference that has four teams in the preseason Top 25, including defending national champion Marshall.
“We’ve got to step up in terms of facilities for both programs,” Hogue said.
Coastal Carolina women's head coach Paul Hogan said that there is a heightened sense of excitement around the team knowing that this will not only boost the program but help out in recruiting.
"It's a place that we can call our own and has a little signature to it," Hogan said. "That part is great for us."
Hogan added that he hopes the new facility leads to a new level of success.
"You look around campus, you look around these athletic facilities here and you know it's fantastic," Hogan said. "You come to see baseball and they win a national championship. Football has a great year and they build an addition on. So we're hoping that all these new things help correlate to our success and our success going forward."
The announcement of the upgrades comes nearly six years after initial plans were made to improve the facilities. In August 2019, board members discussed reducing the cost of the stadium to $3.5 million after a private donation of $1.5 million for the facility fell through. Talk of scaling back the plans infuriated some members.
“You can’t build anything decent of the level of our soccer programs for $3.5 million,” board member Oran Smith said in 2019.
Despite losing the $1.5 million earlier in the process, the university was able to secure that funding from a new donor. Hogue said the final approvals for the facility were obtained over the summer.
“We’re excited that we’re now sitting down and going at the hard work to get this thing finally drawn up and put together so it could be built,” Hogue said.
One of the biggest advantages to building the stadium at the intramural fields is that there is no cost in adding a field because one already exists.
“The field is good. We’re playing on it now. It’s good,” Frost said. “The method is don’t disrupt the field, build the offices, the press box, stands and all that kind of stuff. That’s going to help us come in to that $5 million budget because there was a concern that if we did it somewhere else, you’d have to do a field. That’s going to be a significant save in us having that field.”
In about a year, Frost said dirt will be moved to make way for the new stadium. Boudreaux, based out of Columbia, is the architect for the project. The firm has done work on Coastal's campus before, creating the design and layout for the University Place Dining Hall.
For now, Hogue said the university is working with the architects to iron out the details as to what exactly this new facility will look like before the university reviews any construction bids.
“We’ve re-engaged our architect and began having those conversations of ‘Where can we get the most mileage for our costs?” Hogue said. “Seating capacity, the other functions we have to have for operations on a game day, scoreboard, the locker rooms, what all that looks like in today’s dollars. That’s the process we have undergoing right now.”
While players like senior forward Loranna Austin won't be around to play under the lights of a new stadium, she's excited for her teammates who will and the teams that follow.
"It's about time," Austin said. "They deserve it. Our team's worked hard and I think it will only help our program."